SOUTH BAY: School officials hope to improve treatment for children with respiratory illness. By Melissa Evans STAFF WRITER Los Angeles school officials agreed Tuesday to spend $1 million in bond money to boost mobile health clinics that provide medical services for uninsured children in the South Bay and Harbor Area. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.The expansion of the health clinics will include 26 schools in Gardena, Carson and the Harbor Area, where respiratory illness and the lack of health insurance to treat problems associated with it has been a problem. “This project is going to have a sweeping impact on the district,” said Paul Escala, director of Joint Use Development for the Los Angeles Unified School District. The $1 million from Measure Y, a $3.98billion construction and modernization bond issue approved by voters in November 2005, will be used to pay for technology and other permanent infrastructure such as concrete pads where the clinics can park. Mobile clinics from the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America and Little Company of Mary-San Pedro Hospital will now be able to connect to electricity instead of having to use a generator, and will be able to use telephone and Internet connections to keep better databases on student health records. “This will really improve our efficiency,” said Jim Tehan, director of community health for Little Company of Mary, which provides immunization and basic health services to eight schools in the Harbor Area through its Healthy Start program. The Allergy and Asthma Foundation’s Breathmobiles rotate weekly to more than two dozen local schools in the Harbor Area and elsewhere to treat respiratory problems. Children in San Pedro and Wilmington have higher rates of asthma and allergies because of their proximity to industrial fumes from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, studies have shown. Asthma is the leading cause of absenteeism among L.A. Unified students, affecting about 63,000 children, according to the district. The foundation and the hospital have provided free health services to the schools for several years; they will each chip in another $500,000 for more clinics, nurses and other staff needed to run them. Tuesday’s unanimous Los Angeles school board decision to use bond money marked the first monetary investment on the part of the district to support the clinics. An estimated 5,000 more children will be served with the expansion of the program, officials say. “Until we pass universal health care, this is good for our community,” said board member Richard Vladovic, who represents the Harbor Area. “Anything we can do to make us healthier helps the economy, helps children and it helps our society.” In the past 10 years of serving these areas, schools have seen the absentee rate among students drop from 30 percent to 10percent, said Felita Jones, director of the Breathmobile program. The Healthy Start clinic at Barton Hill Elementary School in San Pedro, where 98 percent of students fall below the federal poverty line, helps keep kids in the classroom, Principal Lou Mardesich said. Students who are referred by the school nurse, along with their siblings or parents who don’t have insurance, can use the clinic every Tuesday from 8 a.m. to noon. No one is turned away, health officials say. “It’s a great service,” Mardesich said. “Students can’t even enroll without their vaccinations.” The new infrastructure will be completed on a schedule that has yet to be determined, but likely by spring of 2008, Escala said. Staff writer Paul Clinton contributed to this article. [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!