Our work in Texas has helped health care teams establish adolescent-centered environments and strengthen staff competencies and confidence around the delivery of adolescent care; this has resulted in more positive experiences for both patient and providers as well as greater levels of patient engagement and satisfaction with services received.
Megan, Director of Clinical Operations at Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, shares how their Northville location in Houston benefits participation in the Texas Youth-Friendly Initiative and the evidence-based Adolescent Champion Model.
Planned Parenthood’s core values are centered around the belief that all people matter and deserve expert health care. With this mission, coupled with a high volume of adolescents in the region of their Northville clinic in Houston, Megan and her team felt like the Texas Youth-Friendly Initiative was a beneficial chance to expand their knowledge of the adolescent population. Megan explains, “we thought it would be a good opportunity to learn and implement tools that would allow us to provide better care particularly to the adolescent population.”
Improving patient care and experience is another reason the Northville location has participated in the TYFI program. The program provides an abundance of tools for their health center to achieve excellent health care experiences for youth which Megan comments can set them on a positive path to accessing preventive health care. Planned Parenthood has observed that this emphasis on youth can have a significant impact on young patients, as well as a significant outcome on the health of the community, economy and other social aspects.
Megan remarks how TYFI has helped the Northville location in their orientation of new staff members on topics related to adolescent-centered care. She noticed the team responded well and gained new insight specifically during the Spark trainings on adolescent brain development, cultural responsiveness and non-biased communication.
The program has also helped both health center staff and their adolescent patients improve parent involvement, Megan remarks. By providing the tools to ask youth how they want to involve their parents and caregivers during their visit, they were able to have clearer communication with patients and parents/caregivers alike. Prompts like “What approach will you take to talk to your parents about this?” or “Is it ok for them to come in the room now so we can all talk together?” are clinic-shifting differences that encourage behavior changes for patients. The health center staff have already observed how impactful these changes can be. During a visit, one parent commented that the health center provided more counseling and educational materials than she had ever seen in any other practice; she was so thrilled that she brought back another child the next day so that they could receive the same information, shares Megan.
With the help of their Education department, Megan and the health center staff gathered teens for a focus group centered on the clinical environment during which they brought the participants through the health center and asked what they saw, thought, and what makes them comfortable or not during their doctor’s visit. The team also staged a mock visit so the youth could answer questions such as: “How do you feel about answering these questions?” and “Would you want your parent in the room during this part of the visit?” The information received from the youth participants was valuable and informed the environmental and practical shifts the health center staff made over the course of the program. Changes such as bringing in more artwork with younger adolescents and LGBTQ+ youth, providing cable TV, youth-oriented magazines, take-home TYFI-branded backpacks and signage, garnered a positive response when they brought the teen participants back to observe at a later date. One teen noticed the changes and remarked, “We told you this stuff and you did it. It really shows that you actually do care. I would definitely come here.”
For Megan, a Director , who has less interaction with patients on a daily basis, the TYFI experience has reinvigorated her desire to listen to the youth perspective. “It has made me look at the patient satisfaction experience in a different way. Really listening to the voice of the people we’re serving makes not only a difference in their lives and their health outcome but it’s beneficial to society,” shares Megan. Speaking of the impact of the program and the way the clinic will continue to make improvements even after the TYFI program ends, Megan remarks, “We do want to be the provider of choice; all of these things have helped to reinforce that, help us grow and will propel us into the future.”
“Through the TYFI, I have learned what information I can provide to adolescents regarding their healthcare. From learning Texas Confidentiality Laws (Sparks) to being informed on the healthcare industry, I feel confident I can provide safe and informative healthcare information.”
-Leticia Tenorio, Certified Community Health Worker, Matagorda Episcopal Health Outreach Program, Bay City, TX
"We want to create a safe space for everyone. Our adolescents are in a stage in life where trust is vital. In order for HOPE Clinic to encourage them to care about their health, we must first provide an accepting and affirming environment where they feel comfortable, respected, and heard. In all that we do, the goal is always to build trusting patient/provider relationships."
- TYFI Adolescent Champion Team, Asian American Health Coalition dba HOPE Clinic, Houston, TX