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Campus Clinics Are Working

December 28, 1987

Sore throats, earaches, stomachaches, sports injuries and gang injuries account for the overwhelming majority of visits since the Los Angeles Unified School District's first campus clinic opened three months ago at Jordan High School in Watts. The clinic is working, as intended, to give teenagers better access to health care.

Students need parental permission to use the cheery yellow health center. At Jordan 500 youngsters, not quite one-third of the students, have consent forms. More than half have stopped by, but there has been no clamor for birth-control information or protection, as opponents had predicted. The information is there for the asking--an acknowledgement of the national epidemic of teen-age sexual activity. But so far only 10 girls--and, significantly, no boys--have asked.

The clinic, run by the Watts Health Foundation, serves another purpose for 20 teen mothers. They bring their babies in for regular checkups and minor illnesses. The convenience may let the students finish their high-school education. That would be a blessing for both mother and child. Jordan's clinic is one of three approved by the Los Angeles Board of Education. A second clinic opened earlier this month at San Fernando High School in the San Fernando Valley. A third clinic is scheduled to open early next year at Los Angeles High School in the Wilshire District. We hope that thousands of students benefit from the wide variety of health services.

The clinics are privately funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation of Princeton, N.J. The foundation, the nation's second-largest charitable organization, has funded 24 campus clinics at schools throughout the United States. Because of private funding and individual donations, taxpayers who oppose the concept need not subsidize it. That ought to provide some relief for die-hard critics.

When clinics are right on the campus, youngsters need not miss a day of school to get medical attention. They need no money for bus fare or doctors' fees. They need only permission from a parent and the motivation to walk down the hall for a chance to stay healthy.

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