A new clinic at the UC Davis Medical Center has opened in a push to confidentially serve the reproductive health care needs of youth and young adults in the Sacramento region.
The Youth and Young Adult Clinic will offer free and confidential sexual and reproductive health services to patients 13 and older. FamilyPACT, a California-based family planning organization that will reimburse the center for patient visits, will provide funding for the clinic’s free services.
“A lot of the adolescents lack insurance and therefore they lack access to health care,” said Dr. Daniel Martineau, a professor of general pediatrics and specialist in adolescent medicine. “This would provide them those services and the ability to get services without having to pay out of pocket for reproductive health issues.”
Among the reproductive health services the clinic will provide are: testing and treatment of sexually transmitted infections or diseases, irregularities in reproductive organs, contraception methods, counseling regarding reproductive health care and sexual education.
Some at the center argue that many youth and young adults lack access to these services because of their parents’ unwillingness to allow their children to be exposed to such access and information. Others believe that younger patients under their parents’ health care are worried about documentation of their services being made available to their parents.
For Dr. Elizabeth Miller, an assistant professor of pediatrics who worked with Martineau to open the clinic, this represents an important access point for youth to both reproductive health services and to reconnect with primary care.
Miller said it is crucial that adolescents, who are consistently forgoing necessary care, are integrated into the health care system.
“We make absolutely sure that a young person who seeks care is connected to a medical home,” Miller said. “The ability to respond to a young person’s needs when they need it at the time they need it is such a critical piece of providing care to adolescents. It’s one small response to an overwhelming need in the Sacramento community.”
The increased accessibility for youth to reproductive health care is also measurable in the considerable cost of such services.
According to Michelle Famula, director of Student Health Services (SHS), the cost of health assessments and testing can exceed $100 to $200 depending on the procedure. Famula said the cost of contraception at the SHS – subsidized through student health and registration fees – is approximately $15. But without insurance, it jumps to $60 per month.
“I do think it’s a really difficult situation that these very important services for young adults can be prohibitively expensive to obtain without of some kind of underwriting,” Famula said. “So I really applaud this system for making this available to these patients.”
And while the clinic will undoubtedly assist adolescents in meeting their sexual and reproductive health needs, its impact in number of patients is difficult to gauge. Martineau said the clinic has served approximately 30 patients so far, but expects more visits come fall.
Miller said there are approximately 2,500 to 3,000 young people in the immediate region with 1,500 alone from nearby Hiram Johnson High School. She estimates that while one-third have health insurance, the rest are either without health insurance or could have it but are not enrolled.
This presents an opportunity for Miller, who hopes the clinic can help them determine their health care status and move them into primary care.
“It takes time to get the word out,” Miller said. “This upcoming academic year is a great time for us to connect to the area’s high schools, to make sure all the student after-school programs know about us. We want to be another point of access for a young person.”
LESLIE TSAN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.