Betty Ruiz boarded a mobile health clinic parked outside of Delta High School.
The 16-year-old was one of at least three students Tuesday morning who had also stepped inside the clinic as part of a Community Health Outreach Program the Community Health Center provides at Delta High, Santa Maria High and Bruce Elementary schools and Lopez High School in Arroyo Grande.
The mobile unit visits each of the schools twice a month, with the exception of Santa Maria High, which has a clinic on-site.
But most local schools have seen a substantial drop in the number of school nurses and health treatment services available to students on-site daily, Delta High and Community Health center workers said.
Noemi Velasquez, who has worked with the Community Health Center as an outreach worker for eight years, said Righetti, Santa Maria and Pioneer Valley high schools employ health technicians who are allowed to monitor student health conditions but they are not allowed to administer medication or treatment.
Velasquez said the Community Health Center’s mobile clinic serves students in need who may not want to burden their parents financially by sharing illnesses or pains.
The Community Health Center began serving Delta High twice a month in September and has since served more than 30 students.
“I think it’s been really vital for working families,” Velasquez said.
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Betty, a junior at Delta, said she had to visit the mobile clinic for the first time Tuesday.
“It’s really helpful, actually,” she said. “If this wasn’t here, then I couldn’t get help with my cramps.”
Tami Contreras, a crisis intervention consultant at Delta, said workers in the mobile health clinic have administered strep tests, flu shots, immunizations and health screenings for high blood pressure and diabetes.
Clinic workers also refer students to dentists and have breathing treatments available for students who are having asthma attacks.
“Because of our low (enrollment) numbers, we don’t get those services,” Contreras said.
She sees students daily who report illnesses and either lets them rest, calls their parents or requests a nurse who serves each of the four high schools in the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District. Contreras said she also calls Righetti High, which provides the nearest health technician.
“We have a lot of students that come to school ill or sick that don’t have a doctor or that don’t have insurance,” Contreras said.
“It would be nice to have a nurse checking in with our students,” she added.