The Culver City Board of Education has given initial approval to a UCLA plan to open a free campus clinic that would offer the district's sixth- through twelfth-graders medical and counseling services, including family planning.
The proposal for the clinic at the Culver City High School-Middle School campus was presented to the board Monday by members of UCLA's gynecology, pediatrics and adolescent-medicine departments.
The school board gave UCLA permission to develop the three-year program and seek $1.4 million in funding. The clinic, which would be staffed by UCLA medical fellows and students, would serve more than 3,000 students, ages 11 to 18.
Model Program in St. Paul
The program, which UCLA officials said is modeled after one in St. Paul, Minn., would provide general health care services and counseling in family planning, suicide prevention, substance abuse and eating disorders.
Parents and school officials praised the proposal, which received the board's unanimous support.
High school nurse Sandy Segal said the district has many single parents whose schedules make it difficult for them to take their children to the doctor. And "many poor families don't have access to free clinics," she said. "The only one in the area is the Venice Free Clinic and that is too crowded."
PTA council President Linda Price said she expects the program to win approval when it goes before her group.
Critics Cite Fears
School board President Diane Pannone agreed. She said the clinic would benefit both the district and the university.
Critics of campus health clinics have cited fears that family planning counseling and the distribution of contraceptives could lead to sexual promiscuity among students.
Adrienne Davis, health education coordinator for UCLA's Family Planning Clinic, said the university would work with parents to allay such fears. She said the final decision on whether to distribute contraceptives will rest with the community.
"We want to work with the community, the parents," she said. "We are a comprehensive health care clinic. We don't want to be called a birth-control clinic although that is one of the services we are thinking of providing."
The Los Angeles Unified School District in November approved the establishment of a pilot health clinic at one high school that would require students to have parental consent to gain access to birth control information and contraception. Backers had hoped to open the clinic this fall, but problems have developed over selection of the school and the public health agency that will operate the program.
Although the Los Angeles and Culver City districts want to require parental consent for student access to birth-control devices, under California law minors are permitted to receive them from doctors without parents' permission.
Dr. Irvin M. Cushner, a professor in UCLA's obstetrics-gynecology department, said state and federal funds are available for the project, but private support will depend on what services the clinic decides to provide
"This field is both old and new," he said. "Part of the newness is in finding out who is willing to support the program in the private sector."
Once UCLA raises the required funds and works out program details, the proposal will go back to the board for final approval.
UCLA chose Culver City for its first campus clinic because of the district's proximity to the Westwood campus. The university hopes to gain clinical experience for its staff and to gather research data on student health care.