Aqui Para Ti
Aqui Para Ti ("Here For You") is a bicultural comprehensive health clinic located in Southeast Minneapolis that provides medical care, behavioral health consultations, health education, and referrals to predominantly Latino youths aged 11 to 24 years and their families with a significant emphasis on family-centeredness and confidentiality. With support from Minnesota's Eliminating Health Disparities Initiative, the program was founded in 2002 when the staff at West Side Community Health Services (WSCHS), the largest community clinic organization in Minnesota, recognized the growing health problems among adolescents in the local Latino community and the need for culturally competent care. Now affiliated with the Hennepin County Medical Center, Aqui Para Ti functions as a stand-alone outpatient clinic with the central goals to help youth foster their strengths and skills and avoid risky behaviors, particularly those relating to mental and sexual health. 93% of the parents and about 75% of the youth served at Aqui Para Ti are born outside of the United States.
The clinic's bilingual and bicultural multidisciplinary staff includes an adolescent medicine physician, a health educator, a social worker, a behavioral health specialist, and a program coordinator. In addition to the services furnished by these health professionals, the staff have excellent referral arrangements in place for a wide range of services such as family therapy, exercise programs, nutrition programs, and nurses who visit pregnant patients at home. Before approving a referral site, program leaders at Aqui Para Ti conduct site visits or meet with representatives to learn more about their services and eligibility requirements, develop a relationship, and ensure the cultural competence of the site's providers.
The clinicians at Aqui Para Ti have developed a unique model for team-based comprehensive health care. At the initial visit, each patient and his or her parent meet with a team member to go over the program's "Confidentiality Mantra", a policy that emphasizes the program's goal of supporting parents and not segregating them from their teens. This Mantra captures main cultural Latino values in incorporating familism and presenting the provider as a significant adult for the adolescent and a partner for the parent. While the team does not share information with parents without the teen's consent, they encourage teens to involve their parents in the process. During the approximately 2 hour initial visit, team members have the opportunity to address parents' concerns and discuss with the teens a treatment plan that will generally include subsequent visits and referrals. The medical team also meets weekly to discuss and further develop these treatment plans, and to ensure that each patient's needs are being met. Many program services at Aqui Para Ti are offered free of charge. However, for direct medical services, insured families use insurance and other families pay according to a sliding-fee scale based on income. Onsite financial counselors are present to help families apply for health insurance to cover any visit costs.
Aqui Para Ti has recently helped create a curriculum that emphasizes parent-child connectedness as a vital factor in healthy youth development. This curriculum, developed in collaboration with the University of Minnesota, is now delivered through onsite parenting discussion groups and is intended to provide guidance to parents raising children in an unfamiliar culture. The group sessions cover topics such as parenting styles, adolescent development, communication, discipline, and conflict resolution. Based on the success of this program, the clinic is working with its partners in the future to develop a companion curriculum for adolescents.
For more information, please visit http://www.hcmc.org/depts/hcclinics/Aquiparatiprogram.htm.