WHITTIER – A mobile health services unit that has visited area senior centers since 1998 has taken a detour. Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital’s Care Force One program, which sponsored free health screenings for seniors locally, has refocused its services to target area schools and children, officials said Monday. “\ seem to have the greatest need in this area,” said Nancy Whyte, manager of community health at the Whittier hospital. “It just keeps coming up that they don’t have access to health care, and they have no physicians, no insurance. This is our way to be able to meet that need,” she added. For the past seven years, Care Force One operators have stationed the traveling health clinic outside of senior centers to offer various walk-in screenings. The services included high blood pressure, glucose and diabetes assessments, among other evaluations. The program drew about 70 visitors a month at some locations. Senior center officials said Monday they have worked to adapt now that the Care Force One unit no longer visits the centers. Ruri Pierre, community services supervisor for the Whittier senior center, said she is working to maintain free screenings for local seniors. She has been able to duplicate some Care Force One programs and recruited associates from other health organizations to offer the services at the Walnut Street center, Pierre said. “I haven’t had anyone come to me and say that they miss the program,” she added. Visitors to the Pico Rivera Senior Center have also adjusted to the transition, according to Lizet Olmos, a coordinator at the site. Olmos said her staff learned of Care Force One’s redirection with sufficient time to line up their own health services for local seniors. “It makes sense because there are individuals here (at the senior center) they are targeting that do have insurance and do have transportation,” Olmos said. According to Whyte, the change in focus from seniors to low-income children will allow hospital officials to expand from preventive health care to doing some primary care. Care Force One officials will now offer basic medical services – such as treating pink eye, for example – to preschool through middle school students. “Those are things that we couldn’t do before,” Whyte said, adding Care Force One will also offer free immunizations and health screenings. Under the revamped program, about 22 schools in four school districts will be served by Care Force One. Those districts include Whittier City School District, South Whittier School District and the Los Nietos School District, along with the “Plaza de la Raza” Head Start program, Whyte said. El Rancho Adult School will also receive Care Force One services. Intercommunity spends an estimated $200,000 annually to operate and maintain Care Force One, Whyte said. [email protected] (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3024 AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE‘Mame,’ ‘Hello, Dolly!’ composer Jerry Herman dies at 88160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!