Hawthorne to Get 2nd Health Center at School

Times Staff Writer

Rep. Maxine Waters, Hawthorne officials and community leaders gathered at Zela Davis Elementary School on Monday to announce that $300,000 in federal funding had been secured for a new health center.

The center will be located at Eucalyptus Elementary School, in one of Hawthorne's poorest neighborhoods. The Maxine Waters Health and Dignity Center, as it will be known, will offer immunization services, health screenings and mental health counseling six days a week. The new 40-by-40-foot facility will also have two examining rooms and parenting classes.

Organizers said services will be free and help families in and outside the Hawthorne School District. The center will directly benefit Eucalyptus' more than 1,200 students.

"Here we have not only a look at children's health, but we're looking at the entire community," said Waters (D-L.A.).

Organizers expect the building to be completed in time for the 2003-04 school year, after federal funding is received in May. The overall construction cost is $380,000. The Kenneth T. and Eilene L. Norris Foundation gave $50,000 in grants. School district officials hope to make up the balance with funds left over from the creation of a Health and Dignity Center four years ago.

In 1999, the Robert F. Kennedy Medical Center Foundation and the school district established the area's first Health and Dignity Center on the Zela Davis Elementary School campus. The center sees some 1,200 students a month.

The new center will "be just like a mini pediatric clinic," said Peggy Doherty, president of Moneta Gardens Improvement, a nonprofit organization helping the district launch the clinic. "Usually nurses' offices are a corner in the office, and maybe you get a partition. This has real walls."

Felipe Merino, a parent and executive director of Moneta Gardens Improvement, said that, while raising his child in Hawthorne, he noticed how a lack of proper health care in the city adversely affected families.

"If you do not have healthy children, we cannot expect them to study in school, we cannot expect them to give 100% of their effort," Merino said.

Supt. Donald Carrington said the two centers are the state's only immediate health-care services for parents and students on a school campus. This "is what we're about when we talk about educating the entire child," Carrington said.

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