St Ann health department opens adolescent clinic

Observer staff reporter

Monday, May 14, 2018

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The St Ann Health Department has started its adolescent clinic at St Ann's Bay Health Centre in the parish.

Several parents and their children attended the first clinic on May 5, where the children accessed dental and medical services. The start of the clinic at the health facility is expected to boost health and values among young people in the parish.

“We are really promoting the adolescent health in St Ann; it is not only for St Ann's Bay,” Nurse Patrina Walford Clarke, one of the organisers of the clinics, said

She noted that the clinic, which will be held every first and third Saturday, and aims to reach people ages 10 to 19.

Services which will be available at the clinic will include counselling, dental and medical care, nutrition, and mental health care. People attending the clinic will also have the opportunity to participate in group discussions with their peers and health service providers at the facilities. Parents are also able to participate in the sessions.

Health problems that will be addressed in these sessions include menstrual problems, male and female reproductive issues, teen pregnancy, mental health, suicide, eating disorder, skin care, abuse, and addiction.

“We are going to take a stand because we really need to promote our adolescent health. They can come out so that we can counsel them; we can educate them about reproductive health,” Nurse Walford Clarke said.

She explained that many young people are not knowledgeable about important things that affect their health and development.

“We want to reach this age group because we realise that it is lacking in our society. We need to tell them that we love and care for them. That is the reason the government is pushing this initiative so we can reach the young people; so we can invest values in their lives to reduce teenage pregnancy, tell them what can happen to them, have a lot of educational sessions, show them different things that young people go through when they become pregnant and how it affects them psychologically and emotionally,” she added.

Walford Clarke said, “For children ages 10 to 15, they are encouraged to come in with their parents because their parents will need to sign consent forms for them to access services available at the clinic. We have a consent form for them to sign off on for them to get treatment,” she said.

For children 16 years old and older, she said if they come without their parents, they will still be seen.

“We will have a leeway with them, we will not send them away. We will ensure that they are taken care of. We know that once we reach young people, we can stop some of the things young people are going through,” she added.

Services such as dental, medical and counselling are restricted to specific numbers because of time. As a result, people are advised to make appointments for the Saturday they wish to access these services.

Dr Rogelia Wallace, a member of the organising committee and doctor at St Ann's Bay Health Centre, said the clinic will also include an entertainment session for participants.

“I am planning to have a little party after the session, such as salsa lessons” Wallace said.

Nurse Walford Clarke said parents and children are already receptive to the clinic.

One parent who spoke to the Jamaica Observer North & East said she welcomes the adolescent clinic.

“It's a good idea for the teenager,” the mother, who identified herself as Kadeen, said.

Walford Clarke said children who wish to participate in only information sessions can also do so.

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