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WALK-IN CLINIC EXPECTED TO SPEED CARE FOR KIDS.

Byline: Melissa Schmitt Daily News Staff Writer

For hundreds of West Valley children, needing medical treatment didn't always mean getting it immediately. But Thursday the staff at the Canoga Park Health Center celebrated the opening of a walk-in clinic created to change that.

The clinic opened April 1 and by the end of business on April 8 had treated 77 patients, according to Yolanda Cazorla, associate administrator of Northeast Valley Health Corp.'s Canoga Park Health Center.

Cazorla isn't surprised by the turnout. She is very familiar with the community the center serves. It is a community of families with little income and no insurance that has often found immediate medical services out of reach - even at the center.

That often meant parents were forced to let their children suffer for a day or two until they could be fit in.

``It was so frustrating. We'd tell them we'd love to accommodate them but we just couldn't,'' Emma Martin, the center's pediatric nurse practitioner, said Thursday.

``They would get this panicked look on their face. They were so frustrated. Now if they come in, they can get accommodated as long as they are willing to wait a little.''

With the addition of the walk-in center, Northeast Valley Health Corp., or NEVHC, expects visits to the Canoga Park Health Center to increase by 4,000 in 1998.

The walk-in clinic was created as a result of a 25 percent increase in visits to the Canoga Park facility, to 9,000, from 1996 to 1997, said Kimberly Wyard, executive director of NEVHC.

In Los Angeles County more than 2.5 million people are uninsured, Wyard said. And many of those are families living on less than $22,000, she added. For a family of four, $22,000 is the federal poverty level.

But the Canoga Park Health Center doesn't refuse treatment to anyone who needs it, Wyard said. ``Our mission is to (care for) people regardless of their ability to pay or whether they are residents (of this) country.''

The Canoga Park Health Center is one of a handful of clinics that nearly fell victim to a $1.2-billion budget deficit in Los Angeles County in 1995.

But in November of 1995, the nonprofit NEVHC took over six Los Angeles County clinics, including the one in Canoga Park.

Since then, NEVHC staff has provided both preventive and reactive care for children and adults. The center provides immunizations, obstetric and gynecological care, tuberculosis testing and family-planning help.

Cazorla said 93 percent of the Canoga Park facility's clients don't have to pay anything for their care.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Apr 10, 1998
Words:432
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