ONE-DAY CLINIC HELD FOR SCHOOLCHILDREN.
Maria Chavez's three teenagers weren't too happy about getting immunization shots at a special free clinic in Burbank on Saturday - but their mom couldn't hide her relief.
``If this weren't open today, they couldn't have gotten their shots before school started,'' Chavez said.
Burbank schools will open Monday and all students are required to be immunized prior to the first bell of the school year. But Burbank Health Center, where local residents have gone for their immunizations for 50 years, is shutting its doors to newcomers in preparation for its closing on Oct. 1, a consequence of the $56.8 million cut from the county health budget.
A number of other clinics in the San Fernando Valley area are also closing or will reduce service.
At the free immunization clinic provided Saturday morning by Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, it was clear the closing of the Burbank clinic would be a blow to a community accustomed to convenient health services.
Angelica Morales, mother of four, called Burbank Health Center's closure devastating.
``I have four kids and no insurance, and I can't afford a private doctor, but I also can't afford to miss work driving to Glendale and waiting for hours in long lines,'' she said as her 7-year-old daughter, Abigail, clung to her leg.
In order to be seen at some of the other clinics she has been to, Morales said, she must wait as long as seven hours in crowded waiting rooms.
``You have to get there at 7:30 a.m. and it doesn't open until 9 a.m.,'' she said.
Morales is not alone.
The Burbank Health Center had 16,400 visitors in 2001. At Burroughs High School alone, nearly 200 students were referred to the Burbank Health Center in the first week of classes in 2001.
``There are a lot of people who used the Burbank Health Center as a resource. Today is just the tip of the iceberg - the demand is going to have to be filled,'' said Eileen Wolf, the executive secretary for mission services at Saint Joseph.
Wolf and a crew of volunteers, including two doctors, manned about eight stations at Burbank's McKinley Elementary School from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, giving free immunizations and physicals to Burbank kids who otherwise would have to waiting in long lines at county offices in Glendale or beyond while school was in session.
If not for the open clinic Saturday, said Mark Duncan, a Burbank mechanic and single father of three, he would miss at least a day of work getting immunizations for his children - work time he could not afford to lose.
``Having a convenient clinic is really important to me. It's too bad that Burbank's is closing - now I'll have to take more time off work to get the kids their shots. Taking time off work is always a big problem when you're trying to pay the bills.''
Edward Murillo grimaces as nurse Barbara Rozewicz gives him a vaccination during the special free clinic Saturday at McKinley Elementary. Burbank schools will open Monday, and students must be immunized prior to entering.
Gene Blevins/Special to the Daily News