YHEP launches youth clinic
by Jen Colletta
Mar 20, 2014 | 614 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Philadelphia FIGHT’s Youth Health Empowerment Project recently opened the doors of a new clinic designed to provide primary health care to young people.

The Y-HEP Family Care Clinic is located at the agency’s headquarters at 1417 Locust St., on the third floor. Y-HEP provides treatment and prevention services and other programs for at-risk and hard-to-reach youth.

Clinic administrative manager Caitlin Conyngham said the organization has provided comprehensive sexual-education and reproductive health care for several years, but saw a need for primary care as well.

“We would see young people coming to us for something relating to sexual health care and it would turn out they would need a referral for something like hypertension or something else that was going on,” she said. “We would refer them to another agency, but that could take a long time to get an appointment, or to the emergency room, which isn’t always appropriate. A lot of the young people we saw, we were their only point of contact with a medical provider, so we saw a huge need for this.”

Nurse practitioner Meghan Bernetich, whose background is in pediatric and adolescent medicine, supervises the clinic, assisted by a nurse practitioner who focuses on sexual health care and gynecology, and auxiliary staff.

The clinic is open from 1-9 p.m. Mondays, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursdays.

“One of the things that was important to us was to make sure we had hours that weren’t just 9-5,” Conyngham said. “It’s hard for someone who’s employed, in school or occupied with young children to access services just during those hours.”

FIGHT executive director Jane Shull said the clinic, supported by funding FIGHT received to become a federally qualified health center, is in its early stages and she expects growth in the coming years.

“If we look at the timeline over the next couple years, I think this will be a full-fledged clinic meeting any primary-care need young people have, in addition to the family-planning services that have been available for years,” she said.

Conyngham noted that the clinic will pair well with Y-HEP’s Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) program, an HIV-prevention initiative aimed largely at young men who have sex with men and transgender women. That program encourages holistic health, she said, as will the clinic.

“This is not just a health-care clinic; it’s a clinic linked in with other services young people need,” she said. “Health care as an isolated thing might not meet all the needs of the city’s young folk. We’ll be working to also connect them with housing supports, access to food, comprehensive wellness.”

Shull added that Y-HEP’s established connections with the local youth community will fuel the program’s impact.

“We found a lot of young people come to Y-HEP and don’t really know where to go for their health-care needs,” Shull said. “And by our being able to open a clinic that is moving toward full service, there will be some place for this group of young people to go. At Y-HEP we see young people who may not have the best relationships with their families at this point in their lives and Y-HEP is a trusted place to go.”

For more information, call 215-564-6388 ext. 358.

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