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Featured Model Teen Programs

Kaiser Permanente's Teen Clinic
San Francisco, California

The Teen Clinic at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Medical Center offers a wide range of interdisciplinary services and confidential care specifically for teens. It has been operating since 1955 when a pediatrician, recognizing adolescents’ unique personal health issues, determined they would benefit from a separate waiting room and place to receive their care. The clinic sees adolescents ages 11 to 19. Twenty percent of its patients are covered by Medi-Cal, California’s Medicaid program, while the rest are privately insured. As part of the medical consortium Kaiser Permanente, a group model HMO, The Teen Clinic is able to offer the option of confidential care with minimal or no co-pays for teens.

The Teen Clinic emphasizes preventive services as a key feature of adolescent health care. The integrated, multidisciplinary staff, which includes physicians who specialize in Adolescent Medicine, OB/GYN physicians and residents, a health educator, and two psychiatric social workers, offer a wide range of services on site including mental health services, sports physicals, alcohol and drug counseling, immunizations, health education, urgent care, and reproductive and sexual health services including STI screening, diagnosis and treatment; pregnancy testing and counseling; and contraceptive counseling and services. Out of 4,000 visits each year, half are well (preventive) visits and the rest are for urgent care and sexual health and other sensitive services.

To promote access to sensitive treatment and preventive services, the clinic offers a unique structure to ensure confidentiality. Adolescents are interviewed alone by medical staff at the clinic, and those between the ages of 12 and 17 do not need parental consent to receive sexual health or other sensitive services. If an adolescent cannot pay for these services, he or she is not billed. Test results are kept confidential by the addition of a note to an adolescent’s electronic medical record so that the lab and pharmacy know not to send any test results home. According to the director, The Teen Clinic at Kaiser Permanente promotes confidentiality as a way of investing in prevention, because in the long run it is cheaper not to charge for a service that an adolescent wishes to be kept confidential than it is to let medical conditions, such as teen pregnancy, progress and have to care for them long-term.

The clinic partners with local high schools and participates in local school fairs to promote healthy lifestyles among teenagers in the community. In particular, The Teen Clinic partnered with Beacon Initiative, a public/private partnership that sponsors youth and family centers in San Francisco public schools and operates a Gateway to Fitness program, which aims to address the obesity epidemic in early adolescents by promoting physical activity, healthy eating, and parental support. The clinic also developed its own educational pamphlets and brochures which are available for patients in the waiting room and all the exam rooms on-site.

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