New wellness center opens at Jefferson High


Jefferson High School celebrated a new addition Thursday. The newest building at the end of the athletic field looks like most of the others on the school’s campus, but inside it looks like a doctor’s office.

“The health clinic that we have today, this will be something that the community will have involvement in, they can utilize the three different areas of service that we have here whether its physical health or mental health or dental health. Our students will be able to take advantage of that as well during the school day or after school,” says Michael Taft, the principal of Jefferson.

Until now, the school just had a nurse to help their 2,000 students with health issues, but over the last five years they have been planning with LAUSD and the South Central Family Health Center to expand their services. They will now be able to offer much needed preventive health care services, STD checks, and help for chronic issues like asthma and diabetes.

The new health clinic at Jefferson is one of 15 wellness centers that LAUSD will be opening on school campuses this year.

Rene Gonzalez, executive director for health and human services at LAUSD helped organize the project. He says, “We believe that in order to make a difference in the health of children, we have to make a difference in the health of the community.”

All of the new health centers will be located in areas with high health risks and low access to healthcare and will provide services not just to students, but to community members as well.

LAUSD used $ 34 million from a voter-approved fund to pay for the construction of the new health centers. Operation costs will be covered by other community organizations. The South Central Family Heath Center partnered with LAUSD for Jefferson’s new clinic.

“We can compete with anyone in terms of quality,” says South Central Family Health Clinic CEO, Richard Veloz. “We have a sliding fee scale – not for the students – but for anyone else in the community there’s a sliding fee scale if they don’t have insurance. But we accept all insurances,” and for students of Jefferson High seeking healthcare, Veloz says, “No cost.”

The next new health center on a school campus will open at Carson High School.