My formal position title is youth outreach and care coordinator, though I like to think of myself as a connector. My time is split between serving at Children’s Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine in Oakland and at the health clinic run out of Auberle’s 412 Youth Zone located Downtown. I’d like to use this blog post to provide a brief overview of what I do.
At the Oakland site, I work with a youth group called CHANGE, which stands for Children’s Hospital Advisory Network for Growth and Empowerment. CHANGE is a youth driven initiative that supports healthy transitioning from pediatric to adult health care. Thinking back to when you were a tween/teenager at the doctor’s office, there was most likely a moment when the doctor asked your parent/guardian to step out of the room so that you and the doctor could talk privately. That was an example of transition; during that interaction, you were solely responsible for asking and answering questions relating to your health. Transitioning from pediatric to adult healthcare is important for everyone and it is especially important for young folks who have a physical disability, chronic illness, mental health diagnosis, or complex medical history. If the medical transition doesn’t occur, there can serious health consequences for that young person. Healthy transitioning is more than just having the skills to schedule a doctor’s appointment and knowing how to get to the health clinic. Knowing what medicines you take, where to pick them up, why you are on those medicines, what the side effects are, feeling comfortable to tell the doctor that you don’t want to take the medicine because of the side effects…all of those skills also fall under the umbrella of transition. Transitioning doesn’t happen overnight. Developing self-advocacy skills, self-awareness, independence, and confidence takes time, practice, experience, and support.
At noon Monday through Thursday, I hop on the PAT bus and venture downtown to the 412 Youth Zone (YZ). Located on Wood St. between 4th and 3rd, the YZ is a drop-in center for young folks that are transient, unstably housed, and/or are transitioning out of CYF services. Youth can take a private shower, do laundry, pickup new clothing, and work with a youth coach on their goals i.e. getting housing, going back to school, and landing a job. Children’s Adolescent Medicine is partnered with Auberle and runs a free health clinic at the YZ. We have clinical hours Monday-Thursday from 12-4pm. We can do driver/school/job physicals, provide pregnancy tests, counsel on birth control, administer STI tests and provide treatment if necessary, along with treating other acute medical needs. If we are unable to treat them at the health clinic, we refer them to Adolescent Medicine in Oakland.
I love my position. I’m privileged to be afforded the opportunity to meet and work with the young folks that are apart of CHANGE and the 412 Youth Zone.