The Culver City Youth Health Center opened its doors last week on the Culver City Middle and High School campus to students 11 to 18 years old whose parents live in Culver City. The center, unlike health clinics at Los Angeles high schools, will not give contraceptives to students and will require parental consent for any treatment or counseling.
Two days after the clinic opened, about 100 Culver City parents showed up at a meeting at the school, where school officials and clinic workers answered questions. Parents signed consent forms to allow their children to receive treatment or counseling at the center.
Dr. Tom Long, the center's medical director, said most of the parents he talked with wanted reassurance that they would be informed of non-confidential services.
"They just want to be involved and aware of injuries and diagnosis, so they can have an option to see their own doctors," Long said.
Promoting Health Habits
He added that the center's main goal was to promote good health habits. "We're really here to encourage teen-agers to act responsibly" about their health.
Shirley Webb, who went to the meeting and whose 13- and 15-year-old daughters attend the school, agreed.
"Maybe the most important thing is, we need to allow youngsters to develop their own sense of responsibility," she said. "This is a huge step in that direction."
Webb said both she and her husband were in favor of the center dispensing contraceptives to students.
"I don't think anybody has all the answers, not the parents, not the teachers, not the administrators, not the physicians," she said. "But I believe education is the best weapon against any adversity in life."
Margaret Brook, who has a 14-year-old son and a 10-year-old daughter at the school, also said contraceptives should be made available on campus.
"I think it would be a good idea," Brook said. "I'm surprised they're not dispensing birth control. I think it would be effective."
Brook said she was not worried about doctor/patient confidentiality in cases involving pregnancy. Pregnancy counseling will be kept confidential.
"I have a good relationship with my daughter," Brook said. "I think she would come to me anyway."
The proposal for the clinic generated controversy last year because the plan included distribution of contraceptives with written parental approval.
No Change Expected
The Culver City school board approved establishing the clinic last December after eliminating the provision of birth control devices.
Vera M. Jashni, assistant superintendent of educational services for the Culver City Unified School District, said last week that she did not expect any change soon in the policy.
"At the present time I don't see (the distribution of contraceptives) being approved or even considered for the next couple of years," she said.
The UCLA School of Medicine will provide the staff at the health center, including a physician, a physician's assistant, program coordinator, health educator and receptionist.
All services are free and include physical examinations for sports, immunizations, detection and treatment of minor injuries as well as routine laboratory tests, pregnancy testing, counseling, referral and other general health care services.
Project Coordinator Cindy Chang Salkin said the center, the first of its kind to open at a high school or middle school campus on the Westside, is being funded by the Stuart Foundation, the California Education Foundation, the March of Dimes and UCLA.