On the 5th of October, the Arizona Family Health Partnership announced six Arizona-based clinics became certified for “youth-centered practices for lifelong health behaviors.”
The following clinics achieved the certification:
• Adelante Healthcare, 15525 N. 83rd Ave., Peoria - Bronze
• Mountain Park Health Center, 6601 W. Thomas Rd., Maryvale - Gold
• Native Phoenix Health, Building C, 4041 N. Central Ave., Phoenix –Silver
• NOAH – Neighborhood Outreach Access to Health, Heuser Family Medicine, Scottsdale,16225 N. Cave Creek Rd.- Silver
• MHC Healthcare Oro Valley Pediatrics, 1856 E. Innovation Park Drive, Oro Valley - Gold
• Phoenix Children’s Hospital, 1919 E. Thomas Rd., Phoenix - Gold
Clinics achieved this by completing an 18-month cohort for the Adolescent Champion Model (ACM). The ACM was an intervention developed by the University of Michigan and implemented through a collaboration with the AFHP.
Anumber of requirements are needed to be certified. They are:
• Ensuring extended hours for adolescents including some evenings and weekends;
• Posting visual cues and materials throughout the health center indicating adolescents are welcomed and valued
• Staff and provider training about confidentiality for minor patients and when parental consent is needed
• Establishing a standardized confidential comprehensive risk-screening tool for high-risk behaviors
• Establishing safe practices to screen all sexually active adolescents for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) following national guidelines
• Offering on-site integrated behavioral health services including social work or psychiatry and maintaining an updated list of behavioral health referral resources
• Yearly training for providers and staff to understand cultural humility and addressing sensitive topics including sexual orientation, gender identity, and cultural norms specific to the population
• Regular feedback collection to improve clinic access, quality, physical appearances, and services
• A system in place to provide same-day Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC) insertion if requested
When asked about how the ACM and clinics certified by following it could impact LGBTQ+ youth, Adolescent Healthcare Program Manager Tracy Pedrotti had the following to say: “The Adolescent Champion Model is based on the idea that by creating a welcoming, confidential and nonjudgmental youth-focused environment in health clinics, LGBTQ+ youth, and young people in general, will be more inclined to seek out and use those clinics to maintain their health, establish positive lifelong practices and make safe choices.
“The program is designed, through visual cues and materials in the clinics as well as through ongoing training for staff to understand and address sensitive topics like sexual orientation, gender identity and cultural norms, to help LGTBQ+ youth feel comfortable and safe in having conversations with and receiving services from professional healthcare providers,” Pedrotti continued.
Pedrotti also noted reception to the program: “One measure of the success of the program comes from the very positive feedback we’ve received from clinics participating in the Adolescent Champion Model. MHC Healthcare Oro Valley Pediatrics and their pediatrician, Dr. Carl Roberts, were inspired to make their checkups more inclusive, as well as add LGBTQ+ affirming touches throughout their office. Since then, they’ve been pleasantly surprised to have several patients come out to them during appointments, noting that the posted flag and stickers showed them it was a safe space to do so.”
Dr. Roberts has since been by adolescent patients’ sides as they decide to come out to their parents. He’s come to know patients’ same sex-partners and been able to provide education and health services to them as well. He says, “one of the most wonderful changes was the number of LGBTQ+ youth that have come out to me since the Adolescent Champion program graced our office…it heightened our awareness, and by adding the touches — a rainbow flag or ‘You Are Safe Here’ sticker — it has changed some lives!”
LGBTQ+ youth simultaneously belong to two groups whose concerns are often unaddressed by the general public at large. While “LGBTQ+ affirming changes” have often been co-opted by businesses as a virtue signal for a month out of the year, this is an excellent use of said changes for their original intent: letting people know that they matter and so do their concerns, all year round.
Arizona Family Health Partnership is a 44-year-old private, nonprofit organization dedicated to making reproductive healthcare and education available and accessible to all women, men and teens in Arizona, particularly those lacking resources and traditionally reluctant to seek health care. With greater access to the services we provide, Arizona families will be healthier and stronger for generations to come. Arizona Family Health Partnership helps coordinate the services funded by the federal Title X program and run by partner agencies. AFHP also is implementing the University of Michigan’s Adolescent Champion Model in Arizona. For evidence-based, unbiased information about contraceptive options, visit www.SexFYI.org. To find resources, best practice models, events and more for youth-serving professionals in Maricopa County, visit www.collectiveresourcehub.org.
For more information about Arizona Family Health Partnership and Title X, visit www.arizonafamilyhealth.org.