Promoting teen health

Part of the registration process at the Health Department is weight check. Here, Emily Spell, RN, checks the weight of a teen receiving services.

The Sampson County Health Department is doing its part in promoting the healthy lifestyle of teens, while offering a variety of services to make it easier for themto seek medical attention when needed.

According to Luke Smith, health educator, the agency offers a variety of programs to all ages, but has several that teens can benefit from, including health promotion, immunizations, general clinics, guidance for family planning and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. Many teens may not have the family support at home that allows them to seek medical attention, and Smith said the Health Department wants to be the avenue teens can use to seek help.

“The purpose of all the programs is to provide health services to teens and other residents,” noted Kathie Johnson, director of nursing at the Health Department. “The Health Department serves as a safety-net healthcare provider for the community.”

According to Johnson, these services are paid for through various means, including federal funds, state funds and insurance and private pay billing. An average of 30-50 teens, ages 13-19, are seen on a monthly basis for the general, family planning and STD clinics.

The Health Department, Smith said, promotes healthy living in teens with educational information through teaching and assisting with classes, presentations and health fairs. The department recently hosted a teen health fair at Clinton High School, hoping to bring awareness to many issues involving teenagers

In addition to the promotion of a healthy lifestyle, the Sampson County Health Department offers a variety of vaccines for teens, including those needed for college.

“We also offer HPV vaccine against Human Papilloma Virus,” Smith said, noting that it is available for boys and young men and girls and young women ages 9-26. “HPV is a common sexually transmitted disease that can cause health problems including genital warts and cancers,: he pointed out.

The general clinic, Smith said, provides a variety of services, including a TB skin test, immunizations, blood titers needed for college programs and pregnancy tests. Appointments are required for these services.

Teens are offered free, confidential testing for sexually transmitted diseases through the STD Clinic. Additionally, the clinic offers treatment, counseling and education of HIV/AIDS, Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia and other sexually transmitted diseases. There is not charge for theses services provided by the clinic and appointments are available Monday-Friday, 8-11 a.m. and 1-4 p.m. Walk-ins are also welcome.

“The mission of the Sampson County Health Department is to preserve, protect, and promote the health, environment, and well-being of the citizens of Sampson County,” Smith said. “Public health promotes positive behaviors and prevents illness and injury. The goal is to ensure services are provided to those in need, especially teens.”

According to Johnson, charges for these services are based on a sliding feel scale. Some services, however, are provided regardless of the ability to pay.

State law allows teens to seek certain services without parental permission. According to Johnson, N.C. General Statute 90-21.5 states, “Any minor may give effective consent to a physician licensed to practice medicine in North Carolina for medical health services for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of (i) venereal disease and other diseases reportable under G.S. 130A-135, (ii) pregnancy, (iii) abuse of controlled substances or alcohol, and (iv) emotional disturbance.”

These services, Johnson said, are for teens ages 18 and under, confidential (parents will not be notified unless there are positive test results and the health department is unable to successfully contact and/or follow up with the teen) and counseling and clinical services are provided.

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