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Back-to-school boost

Health: Local clinic gives immunizations to youngsters as the school year begins

Posted: August 11, 2010 9:30 p.m.
Updated: August 12, 2010 4:30 a.m.

Donald Borner, 9, of Canyon Country, receives a pinwheel from health-education specialist Melinda Hernandez after receiving an immunization Wednesday. The center held a clinic to offer free vaccines before schools begin to welcome students back from their summer break.

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About 40 Santa Clarita Valley youngsters rolled up their sleeves and felt the pinch of a needle Wednesday as part of a new local health clinic’s back-to-school immunization fair.

The clinic, organized by the Northeast Valley Health Corporation, provided 128 immunizations, which included chicken pox, measles, mumps and whooping cough, spokeswoman Keshia Cain said.

The corporation timed the event at the new Santa Clarita Health Center to match up with the Santa Clarita Valley schools’ welcoming of roughly 50,000 kids for the start of the 2010-11 school year.

The event also included a fingerprinting station for children and information about how to receive affordable health care.

The fair was meant to meet a growing need for local youngsters to have affordable access to immunization services, Cain said.

“I think it’s wonderful that she can be updated with her shots,” said Saugus resident Fern Telio, who brought her 11-year-old daughter to the fair.

Telio doesn’t have health insurance and, like many other suffering in the economic downturn, she has few options for medical help.

Wednesday’s event comes as the Northeast Valley Health Corporation prepares to officially open the Santa Clarita Health Center on Monday. The center will be open 20 hours a week and will focus on treating women and children, Cain said.

The corporation hopes to become a full-time operation once additional funding is secured. For now, corporation officials expect the new center will treat up to 240 patients a month at its 7,500-square-foot location, Godoy said.

The location on Soledad Canyon Road marks the corporation’s second spot in the Santa Clarita Valley. The Valencia Health Center, which has been in operation since 1995, is open 64 hours a week and handles more than 27,000 visits annually.
“We don’t have any more capacity,” Hector Godoy, Santa Clarita Health Center’s clinic administrator, said about the roughly 6,000-square-foot location next to the Valencia Library.

The ongoing increase in demand pushed the corporation to expand its services to the east side of the Santa Clarita Valley.

The United Way estimates that 30,000 local residents are uninsured, a number that is expected to grow because of the economic recession.

“We saw there was a great need out here,” Cain said.



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