Greta Macey: Open Door’s Teen Clinic Services Are Free, Confidential and Sensitive – September 3, 2011
While I was volunteering at a recent Patient Appreciation Day in celebration of Open Door Community Health Centers’ 40th anniversary, a gentleman asked me how I got involved in the clinic. I told him I was a Teen Advocate and Receptionist for the Teen Clinic held every Monday afternoon at the Humboldt Open Door Clinic in Arcata. As the conversation continued, I shared that I adore my job and will be sad to stop working there once I start attending college. He asked if I would be pursuing a career in healthcare. I had to pause before I could answer. “I’m actually a business major,” I replied. “I guess you could call this my hobby.”
While I’m extremely excited to be majoring in Business Marketing at HSU, and despite portraying my job as a hobby, I am passionate about reproductive health education and health services for teens. I find that many young people enter adulthood unaware of the tools and resources available to them, particularly when it comes to healthcare. By knowing what places and services to look for, a person will always have access to healthcare and ways to maintain a quality lifestyle.
I try my hardest to spread awareness among my peers on how to be an advocate for your own health. I think I’ll always be an advocate for quality healthcare.
Open Door Community Health Centers has special Teen Clinics at its Humboldt Open Door Clinic on 10th Street in Arcata, its McKinleyville Community Health Center on Central Avenue in McKinleyville and at its Del Norte Community Health Center in Crescent City. The Willow Creek Community Health Center is launching a Teen Clinic in the next several weeks (for more information visit opendoorteenclinic.com).
I work at the Humboldt Open Door Clinic (HODC) in Arcata. It is staffed by some of the nicest, most energetic nurses and practitioners I know. The atmosphere of the clinic is welcoming and safe.
The Teen Clinic “front desk” is run by students like me, either from Arcata High School or McKinleyville High. We all received training and the competence and maturity of the teen staff is well received and creates an informal peer atmosphere for young people who may be uncomfortable with their first visit.
To add to the comfort level, the HODC and McKinleyville Teen Clinics (both are open every Monday afternoon from 3 to 5 p.m.) have their own waiting rooms. Services during Teen Clinics are offered on a walk-in basis; no appointment needed.
As a receptionist, I see teens come in for varying reasons, sometimes just because they have questions. All clinic services are free and confidential and focus on the importance of making healthy educated choices. Birth-control, pregnancy testing and counseling, diagnosis and treatment of STIs and STDs are just some of the reasons teens come in.
Part of the counseling services focus on support for teens who are choosing abstinence, giving them tools and knowledge to stand with their decision and teach others the value of their personal choices.
The clinic also provides teens who identify as LBGTQ a safe and confidential place to get services. Screening exams and tests for common men’s and women’s health issues can help teens who are not receiving regular health care to get the services and treatment they may need, including referrals to other support services.
The range of HODC’s services does not go unappreciated by the local teens. When asked about her local clinic, an Arcata patient stated “I feel so comfortable talking with the staff about my personal health, including sexual matters. They give accurate answers without being biased or judgmental.”
There are some weeks when there aren’t enough nurses and practitioners to handle the influx of patients, and sometimes you end up waiting for an hour or so to be seen. But the environment is so friendly that the wait is usually OK. In the waiting area teens can peruse various magazines and pamphlets on sexual health and teen issues.
As a staff member, I make sure a different health video is playing every week. For those who just want to chat, all of us receptionists love to strike up a conversation. I think it is important for the community to know about this valuable resource.
Anyone from age 12 to 19 is welcome during Teen Clinics. If you can’t come in to Teen Clinic, or if you aren’t a teen, the same quality services are available to teens and everyone else through the other clinics by appointment, just call the front desk at your nearby clinic.
As a health advocate, I recommend Teen Clinic for all teens who want help, services or just to build knowledge. The clinic has helped me when I couldn’t go to anyone else.
Greta Macey, your average girl with a zest for leafy greens and cozy sweaters, is getting ready to start her freshman year at HSU. For more information about Teen Clinic and other Open Door Community Health Centers services, visit opendoorhealth.com.