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Thursday, December 06, 2012 - Teen Clinics Continue to Meet Needs of Youth


A Teen Health Corner nurse takes the blood pressure of a student.

Teen Clinics Continue to Meet Needs of Youth
Kalkaska Memorial Health Center oversees clinics in Kalkaska, Fife Lake

Kalkaska Memorial Health Center’s Teen Health Corner locations in Kalkaska and at Forest Area Schools continue to make a difference in the lives of area youth.

Since 2006, students in the Kalkaska Public Schools have been eligible to use the Teen Health Corner clinic located in Kalkaska. A new Teen Health Corner opened in 2011 in Forest Area Schools. Both clinics continue to meet the needs of young people in the region.

Nurse Joanna Durfee, R.N., said the clinic in Forest Area is open three days a week and the initial goal for the first year was to serve 200 youth. “We have seen 228 in our first year,” she said. “In Kalkaska, our goal is to serve 500 youth, this past year we served 450.”

Kalkaska Memorial Health Center Administrator Jim Austin said the hospital was the first critical care access hospital in the state to open a teen health center.

“There were a lot of efforts that went into getting the funding that made these centers possible,” he said. “Our communities are very fortunate to have these kinds of services available near the schools.”

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article that focused on the need for health care among the young, and how around the nation school-based health centers continue to expand. Durfee said both clinics at Kalkaska and Fife Lake provide access to care for teens that otherwise may not have access.

The clinics offer comprehensive physicals, immunizations, nutrition and exercise counseling, mental health services, reproductive health services and make referrals for vision, dental, and other medical specialists as needed.

“We contract with Pine Rest of Traverse City to provide free mental health counseling services,” she said. “We serve a large population of Medicaid and uninsured patients. We offer onsite Medicaid/Mi Child enrollment and have a sliding fee scale for those who do not qualify for any state Medicaid. No one is turned away for their inability to pay.”

Both clinics are designed to make teens feel comfortable. There are no sterile paper gowns and sheets. Fleece blankets, cloth gowns, and fluffy pillows comfort teens who might be uncomfortable or apprehensive.

While the Teen Health Corner clinics are primarily offered to students age 10 - 21 at Kalkaska and Forest Area schools, home schooled and charter school students are encouraged to use the clinics as well.

Operational grants for the clinics come through the Michigan Department of Community Health. There are 60 state-funded, school-based, and school-linked health centers in Michigan.

For more information about the Teen Health Corner clinics, or to make an appointment, call (231) 369-2000 at Forest Area Schools, and (231) 258-7791 in Kalkaska.