Gabriel Vargas, who received a lifesaving diagnosis from Venice Family Clinic doctors, pitches in with the groundbreaking of the Children’s Health & Wellness Center

Gabriel Vargas, who received a lifesaving diagnosis from Venice Family Clinic doctors, pitches in with the groundbreaking of the Children’s Health & Wellness Center

The nonprofit Venice Family Clinic broke ground Monday on a new location in Del Rey expected to provide medical, dental, vision and mental health care services to some 4,000 children each year.

The Children’s Health & Wellness Center at 4700 Inglewood Blvd. will be the Westside’s first low-income health clinic focused exclusively on pediatric medicine, according to Venice Family Clinic, which serves low-income and homeless residents at eight other locations.

The new pediatric clinic will also offer fitness classes, a teaching kitchen and an herb garden.

Patricia Vargas, a former tenant at the nearby Mar Vista Gardens public housing project, spoke about the medical care that her family has received through Venice Family Clinic over several years.

Vargas’ son Gabriel had been treated for fever at a local hospital and released when she decided to seek a second opinion at Venice Family Clinic’s Colen Family Center in Del Rey.

“My maternal instinct kicked in. I knew that it was something more serious and I knew where to go for help,” she said during the groundbreaking ceremony.

Clinic doctors diagnosed her son with Kawasaki disease, which inflames the body’s blood vessels and is potentially fatal.

Venice Family Clinic CEO Elizabeth Benson Forer said Vargas’ story was a prime example of the need for a pediatric clinic in Del Rey.

“Patty and her family’s experience really demonstrates the impact that our staff and our programs have on this community,” she said.

— Gary Walker

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