Wellness Centers discuss COVID challenges at virtual collaborative

Pia V. Escudero of LAUSD Student Health and Human Services addressed more than 100 participants at The L.A. Trust’s online Learning Collaborative. 

Wellness Centers online meeting (recording)

Representatives from the Los Angeles student health community met online Thursday, May 7, 2020 at The L.A. Trust’s Wellness Center Learning Collaborative to discuss how to serve students and their families during the COVID-19 health emergency. More than 100 clinicians, educators and healthcare advocates attended.  

The coronavirus is impacting patients — and the clinics that serve them. Nine of the sixteen on-campus Wellness Centers have suspended operations (see list). Fewer students and community members are visiting clinics, putting their long-term health at risk. It also threatens the financial health of some clinics that have been serving high-need communities for years. 

Dr. Yohanna Barth-Rogers, chief medical officer of the UMMA Wellness Center at John C. Fremont High School in South Los Angeles, told the Learning Collaborative that her clinics were moving the majority of patient visits to video conferences and phone calls.  

In-person visits must be approved in advance and be deemed medically essential. Two of the needs deemed essential are vaccinations and contraception. 

One challenge is finding safe spaces to have sensitive conversations with students, she said. “My worry is that we’re missing things, such as violence in the home.” She said the clinic was developing ways to have confidential conversations with students during the coronavirus shut-down. 

Reaching out 

In addition to telehealth, clinic operators have been staying in touch with patients through community networks and social media. “Asian Pacific Healthcare Venture Inc., serving Belmont and John Marshall High Schools, cares about you,” they said in an email to The L.A. Trust. “If you have any health concerns, call us. We’ll make a telephone appointment to talk to a provider or get your medication refilled. We are also open for confidential services. Stay safe!” 

North Hills Wellness Center at James Monroe High School issued a “stay at home challenge” for students: “Eat an apple instead of chips. Get outdoors (with your mask on!). Follow a workout routine on FaceTime or YouTube. Learn a TikTok dance. Be creative and remember that social distancing and face coverings save lives!” 

Dr. Rosina Franco and Student Medical Services reported that while the Hollywood High Wellness Center was closed for safety reasons, “we are currently working on a re-entry plan for when schools, and our clinic, will re-open. In the meantime, please log on to the LAUSD SHHS webpage.”  

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