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Will County Community Health Center Welcomes Teens With “Teen Friendly Space”

 Will County Community Health Center, 1106 Neal Avenue, Joliet

 

Did you know that high-risk behaviors, such as substance abuse, unsafe sexual activity, interpersonal violence, and suicide are the primary cause of disease and death in adolescents ages 12 to 21?  To compound the problem, adolescents are less likely than other age groups to access needed health care services, including annual well-care visits, where these high-risk behaviors can be discussed and addressed with a trusted health care provider.

Staff at the Will County Health Department (WCHD) and Community Health Center (CHC) care about adolescents, and are actively addressing this problem by working with their Community Health Educators, and looking to become a Certified Adolescent-Centered Environment. This certification is awarded through the University of Michigan’s Adolescent Health Initiative.

To become a Certified Adolescent-Centered Environment, a health center must meet certain criteria with the goal of making a health center more adolescent user friendly. Criteria include things such as offering extended hours for services on evenings and weekends, training staff on the importance of confidentiality for minor patients and what health services adolescents can consent to, and creating multiple visual cues in the waiting area and exam rooms that indicate that adolescents are welcomed and valued. The Will County Community Health Center has already met most of the required criteria.

                                                     D.J. Oshin of Elgin poses in the Community Health Center’s New Adolescent-Centered Environment

As part of the certification process, the Community Health Center now has a colorful, and welcoming adolescent waiting area in both their Joliet and Bolingbrook locations. These waiting areas are furnished with multi-colored chairs, smart phone charging stations, inviting floor decals defining the space, and colorful adolescent health education materials and posters. In addition, staff at the Community Health Center have gone through adolescent minor consent and confidentiality training, and teen brain development training which has helped to increase staff awareness and sensitivity to the needs and rights of adolescent patients.

Dr. Jennifer Byrd, Chief Medical Officer for the Community Health Center, states that “It is a pleasure to collaborate with our colleagues in Family Health Services to bring this beautiful space into our health center. We are excited for the adolescent population to see the space for themselves and feel welcome while in the facility. Ultimately, we want all patients to view the community health center as their medical home and a safe place where they can access health care as they move throughout all stages of their lives.”

Services for adolescents at the Community Health Center include general medical care, annual well-care visits, behavioral health care, dental care, and immunizations.

In addition, Illinois minor consent law allows adolescents (aged 12 and up) to call and make their own appointment for confidential reproductive and sexual health services for contraceptives and STD testing and treatment. Adolescent reproductive and sexual health services are provided to teens based on a sliding fee scale and may be free based on their income.

To make an appointment at the Community Health Center, call 815-727-8670.