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Boro PS health clinics to stay open until 2002

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The Department of Health...

By Jennifer Warren

Five Queens school-based health clinics that were to be closed because of Health and Hospital Corporation cutbacks, have received a last-minute reprieve by the city’s Department of Health, said Jane Zimmerman, an HHC spokeswoman.

The Department of Health pledged $530,000 from its own school health program to fund the clinics through January 2002, Zimmerman said.

The clinics which are expected to remain open are those in PS 220 in Rego Park, Long Island City High School, PS 86 in Jamaica, PS 14 in Corona, IS 145 in Jackson Heights and PS 7 in Elmhurst.

Still slated to shut down is the Waltham Health Center at 146-36 105th Ave. in Jamaica. That center is not based at a school.

Neal Cohen, commissioner of the Department of Health, said his agency was committed to helping the clinics and their clients.

“The New York City Department of Health is pleased to support the school-based clinics run by HHC to ensure that children’s access to the public health services provided by these clinics continue without interruption,” Department of Health Commissioner Neal Cohen said.

The financial rescue was announced last Thursday following a Department of Health board meeting. Dr. Luis Marcos, president of the Health and Hospitals Corporation, said there was still much work to be done.

“This collaboration highlights the fact that HHC needs committed partners at all levels of government to fulfill its mission of providing quality health care to all, regardless of ability to pay,” he said.

Following the announcement of HHC’s plans to shutter the clinics, many parents and community activists sought to keep the health centers open.

One of them was Edgar Moya, the volunteer chairman of the government legislative committee of HHC’s Elmhurst Hospital. Moya and his colleagues worked with the communities which would be most affected by the closings.

In just a few days he and two colleagues collected more than 8,000 signatures for a petition they submitted to state legislators. They have also submitted requests for grants to the state Department of Health for $7,000 and to the federal government’s Healthy Communities, Healthy Schools program.

“This was actually done in a rush,” Moya said. “We could foresee that this was going to happen when we approached the City Council and HHC. They were pretty noncommittal as to how much funds we’re going to get.”

The funds are needed to maintain the clinics beyond January 2002, Moya said.

Reach reporter Jennifer Warren by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 155.

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