Community clinic opens to Rowland Unified families
VALINDA - Living in a community isolated from services and businesses has made it tough for some low-income families here to get basic health care for their children and themselves. Among them is parent Miriam Magallanes.
The Valinda resident usually travels by bus to a clinic about three miles away in La Puente for regular check-ups for her children. By the time they've gotten back home after waiting hours to be seen, the school day has already ended, she said.
"It's usually an all day thing taking them somewhere else," Magallanes, 31, said.
But last week, the East Valley Community Health Center, a West Covina-based nonprofit medical group, made the journey to affordable health care much shorter.
In partnership with the Rowland Unified School District, East Valley opened the doors to its new $875,000 school-based health center on the Villacorta Elementary School campus at 17840 E. Villacorta St.
Primarily funded with a $750,000 grant from the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, the new medical center will provide services such as physicals and immunizations, women's health care, prenatal care and treatment of chronic diseases to the needy and uninsured.
"There's such a need here because there's a lot of poverty, multiple families and single-parent homes with limited transportation," East Valley spokeswoman Lorena Gardea said. "Its such a rare thing to have a full-fledged clinic open to the community."And although it's only been open a few days, already the neighborhood clinic has served 22 local residents, including Magallanes.
"It's so much better," she said. "It's close by and it's faster than over there. I've already told my mom and she wants to come by."
The 2,160-square-foot facility will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays and 1 to 5 p.m. Fridays. On those days, youth will be seen between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. and the clinic will be open to the community from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Once it is open full-time, which officials hope will be in August, hours will increased to six days a week, allowing up to 380 patients to be seen. Services will also expand to include mental health and nutrition consultations.
"The focus is Rowland students and their families, but we're not turning children away," Gardea said. "The greatest need was for children here to get their health care and not miss a day of school."
Villacorta Vice Principal Sylvia Cadena said having a nearby facility will promote increased academic learning.
"There's a strong correlation between attendance and great academic learning," she said. "We feel it's going to help us on a lot of levels, and parents can tap into this extraordinary resource."
For years, officials at the district - which already has a children's clinic and dental clinic at nearby Northam Elementary school - have supported the need for a larger family medical center.
"I've wanted our own clinic since 1986," District Nurse Cindy Rose Escamilla said. "We tried 10 years ago at another school site in Rowland Heights, but it didn't work out."
The district then partnered with East Valley, which evolved from a free clinic in West Covina in 1970 to a comprehensive health center. East Valley added another clinic in Pomona in 1992. Villacorta is the third health center.
"This is a clinic for our community," Gardea said.
For more information on the clinic, call 626-919-4333, ext. 2140 or ext. 3141.
Staff Writer Richard Irwin contributed to this story.
626-962-8811, ext. 2446