Sex. STIs. Pregnancy. Depression. Anxiety. All topics that our society has stigmatized for the longest time. A stigma that has not only created barriers for conversation, but has also become deeply entrenched in our cultural beliefs, values, traditions, and families.
The Daly City Youth Health Center is working towards breaking these stigmas. Being the only teen health clinic in Daly City, the DCYHC is a comprehensive, community-based health center dedicated towards empowering young people to take control over their healthcare. “We are about reaching young people at a very essential part of their life as adolescentes,” described Fawnda Nguyen, a staff member of the DCYHC and educator of the DCYHC’s Project P.L.A.Y. The clinic serves all 5 high schools in the Jefferson Union High School District and what makes the DCYHC special is that it only serves people ages 12-24. These are some of the services they offer:
Primary care is the basic, day-to-day kind of health care. This includes:
- Primary Care Exams
- Tuberculosis Skin Test and Treatments
- Vision and Hearing Screenings
“Every single person in this society will experience some form of intimacy in their lifetime and whatever that intimacy looks like to them, we want young people to do it safely,” says Ms. Nguyen. Ultimately, the reproductive health department of the DCYHC is about challenging stigmas and providing methods for young people to have healthy, intimate partnerships. Their services include:
- Reproductive Health Exams, including Pap Smears and Breast Exams
- Contraceptives (Birth Control, Condoms)
- Emergency Contraceptives (“Plan B”)
- Pregnancy Tests
- Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) Tests including HIV
Fun fact: DCYHC is the sponsor for Oceana’s Condom Access Program. If you have ever accessed condoms through a teacher on campus, you have actually received a service from DCYHC!
Mental health is another highly stigmatized topic. The counseling department focuses on normalizing the fact that everyone goes through difficult times. Most of the current youth being counseled at the DCYHC are coping with bullying, reproductive health issues, stress, anxiety, abuse, substance use, truancy, depression, family and relationship conflicts. The goal of the DCYHC is to provide youth with an adult they can speak to in a non-judgemental environment. Young people can access counseling there in different forms:
- Individual counseling
- Family counseling
- Couple counseling
- Group counseling
Here is how Oceana students and young community members can access these services:
Parental Consent and Confidentiality:
In the state of California, you do not need parental consent to receive reproductive or counseling related services. However, this does apply to primary care services.
Additionally, there is a law in California that prevents medical providers from disclosing any use of reproductive services to your legal guardians. This means you, as a young person, can sign your own paperwork and whatever happens at the health center is completely confidential. This law does not apply to primary care services or counseling.
The DCYHC recognizes that for many students cost is a very scary thing. Students are often dependant on their parents’ finances or may not have insurance. Ms. Nguyen stresses that cost is not something you should be concerned about, nor should it hold you back from receiving the medical services you need: “Even if you are unsure about your insurance status, the DCYHC encourages you visit the health center anyways and we’ll find out for you.”
DCYHC mission is to provide safe, respectful, comprehensive health services to teens and young adults who do not have access to basic health care. If you have a public insurance such as Medical, Health Plan of San Mateo, ACE, etc, you qualify for all the services offered at the DCYHC. If you don’t have insurance at all, they’ll sign you up up for one which will cover the cost of most or all of the visits. The DCYHC also features a benefits analyst on site, who will ensure that young people do not go through this process alone.
If you have a private insurance such as Kaiser, Blue Cross, Health Net, Aetna, etc, the DCYHC encourages you go to your primary provider and continue to strengthen your relationship with them. However, even with private insurance, you can still access reproductive services as well as some counseling services. A staff member will sign you up for a confidential government medical insurance (like Family PACT Medi-Cal Minor Consent) during your visit to cover most or all the cost.
The DCYHC is open Monday through Friday 9:00am-5pm (closed at lunchtime from 11:45-12:45pm). You can call (650).985.7000 or visit the clinic at 2780 Junipero Serra Blvd, Daly City, CA. They also have same and next day appointments.
In fact, Melissa Ambrose, our wellness counselor here at Oceana, revealed that students can actually leave campus during school hours to receive reproductive and counseling services . The way you can do this is to get in contact with Ms. Ambrose who can help you go through the process of scheduling an appointment, figuring out bus routes, and writing you a pass. From there, you’d usually take a bus to the health center. Once arrived, you would receive whatever health services you need and afterward you’d receive a pass from the DCYHC, and come back to school. “I do check to make sure students show up or not,” Ms. Ambrose says. “If they don’t, the whole thing is no longer confidential and I let Mr. Neuberger know it is a ‘cut’ from school. This means it is VERY likely that parents/guardians will be notified as the student left campus without their consent. Therefore, students should NEVER use the opportunity to get out of school. That is not what it is for. It is for real health needs.”
Impacts on OHS Students
“The DCYHC has been so significant to me in that before I knew about the DCYHC, I always wondered what would happen if I couldn’t afford to buy emergency contraceptives or a pregnancy test,” says one Oceana student. “It’s too embarrassing going into a Walgreens and then have to pay for such an expensive thing by myself. But with having the support of the DCYHC, I don’t have to.”
Another OHS student says, “The DCYHC has helped with so many issues, specifically on how to deal with my depression. And if you are going through a seriously rough time and feel like you can’t turn to anybody else, I recommend the DCYHC. It’s honestly one of the most resourceful and caring places I’ve been to in so long.”
Ultimately the Daly City Youth Health Center is there and ready for us, the students, to utilize, whether it be for condoms, STI testing, counseling or any other service they offer. Through their mission of serving the needs of their community, the DCYHC is breaking barriers. “At the end of the day, sex isn’t just about reproduction,” Ms. Nguyen says. “Sex boils down to social justice. It boils down to empowerment, to choices and to relationships.”