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A program designed to provide health counseling for students in New York City schools has been plagued by staff shortages and should be revamped to focus services on schools with the greatest health-care needs, a study has concluded.

The counselors, known as health-resource coordinators, advise students about problems and refer them to medical personnel when necessary. Officials had planned to place one in each of the city's 178 middle schools, but due to the staffing problems, the study found, only 111 schools had such workers.

In addition, the report by the public-policy group Interface showed that only one-third of the students who were referred to a physician ever received medical care.

To aid students who do not have access to a regular physician, the study recommended that the city open 11 more school-based health clinics in areas with the greatest need. The clinics could be funded in part by replacing the coordinators in the more affluent parts of the city with less costly health aides, it suggested.

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