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Health Program Targets Low-Income Students

VALLEY ROUNDUP | San Fernando/Pacoima

March 23, 1999|NEDA RAOUF

State and local officials unveiled a program Monday designed to get more schoolchildren in need into publicly financed health programs.

Low-income students from schools in Pacoima and San Fernando are the target of the program announced by county Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and city, state and school representatives.

More than 40% of the students in the Los Angeles Unified School District lack medical coverage, and such children often fail to receive immunizations and regular health checkups, officials said.

About 30 parents were in attendance at Pacoima Elementary School, where Yaroslavsky discussed plans to push enrollment of eligible children in health programs.

"This is a comprehensive and holistic approach both to education and to health care, to realize the interdependence of both," Yaroslavsky said.

Agencies involved are the Los Angeles County Health Department, the LAUSD, the Public Social Services Department, and public and nonprofit agencies.

School nurses and counselors will assist in identifying students who might benefit, said Angie Medina, director of Children's Health Outreach for LA Health Department.

About 700,000 children in Los Angeles County, or one in four, do not have health insurance. In the Los Angeles Unified School District, 290,000 children, or about 43% of the student body, lack coverage, said Toni Saenz Yaffe, director of family health programs for the county Department of Health.

"Children who do not have adequate health insurance frequently do not get primary and preventive health care services," Yaffe said.

Preventive care includes immunizations and health screenings for tuberculosis and diabetes, in addition to tests for sight and hearing, she said.

"Health problems that are not taken care of in childhood can have long-standing effects on a child's health," Yaffe said.

Some 25,000 children are enrolled in schools in the area. Information on the program may be obtained by calling (818) 947-4086.

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