Partnering with People’s Community Clinic

Written by SAFE

For nearly 12 years, People’s Community Clinic has been an incredible partner to The SAFE Alliance, providing our youth at the SAFE Children’s Shelter with the best holistic and trauma-informed medical care possible. The collaboration began with an initial gift from the St. David’s Foundation, back when the Children’s Shelter was on Enfield Road.

Although previously there was a single nurse practitioner, when People’s Community Clinic Director of Adolescent Medicine Dr. Celia Neavel started, she quickly saw the need for more comprehensive care for SAFE kids. Eventually, the Center for Adolescent Health off-site team helped us build a well-equipped exam room on the new Children’s Shelter campus when it opened in Rathgeber Village ten years ago.

Now, two days a week, People’s Community Clinic has a nurse practitioner, Jennifer Arce, two medical assistants, Brenda Carrillo and Brenda Quiroz, and a site manager, Lina Diaz, with Dr. Neavel remaining as Medical Director for the Children’s Shelter. When a young person arrives at the shelter, SAFE will get them in to see the People’s medical staff within three days. In that first visit, the People’s team does a comprehensive wellness exam, where they will take vitals, check vision/hearing and do a full medical history, frequently for the first time in that child’s life.

The People’s team also looks for any acute medical needs, might take labs or give immunizations, and determines if the child or adolescent needs any referrals to specialists.

For example, when Aidan came to the Children’s Shelter and had his initial health visit, the People’s team detected a heart murmur. Aidan said, “Oh, yeah, they mentioned that once but it never got fixed.” People’s immediately got Aidan to a specialist and worked to find him the medical assistance he needed to address the murmur.

There are many reasons SAFE staff appreciate the People’s team, not least of which is that they are great with kids, brilliant health professionals, and approach every young person as an individual with unique concerns and needs.

As SAFE Health Director Brandi Bramlett says, “What People’s Community Clinic provides us is irreplaceable. They diagnose and treat really complex issues on the kids’ front porch. That doesn’t really exist elsewhere.”

Brandi remembers a teenage girl that came to the SAFE People’s Clinic with a strange skin eruption. While they tried a number of things to address the issue, it was not improving. And then People’s physician Dr. Pritesh Gandhi came to SAFE, visited with the girl and diagnosed the problem. Within days, her skin had improved, and by the time she left shelter later that week, the eruption had completely healed.

Dr. Celia Neavel, a family and adolescent medical doctor at People’s Community Clinic, has been a strong proponent of the partnership with SAFE since the beginning. She notes that the medical team at People’s really just wants to ensure that the youth receive the highest level of care. The care team members from People’s have an extra level of training and experience working with high risk youth — as a result, they work even harder to give the youth autonomy over their bodies.

But not every agency has the patience for this extra level of care. Dr. Neavel said that she appreciates how SAFE not only wants to provide the kids in shelter with good medical care, but that our staff are keen to dive deep into the specific needs of each kid. She also appreciates that SAFE supports youth with reproductive health, particularly given the high rates of teen pregnancy in adolescents in foster care.

It takes special people to provide medical care to youth who have already been through a lot. The People’s staff are working with SAFE children and adolescents because they want to be there, and to ensure that these young people get an opportunity to improve their overall well-being through a more positive interaction with the health care system.

The SAFE-People’s partnership is a shining example of what good can happen for foster youth when groups like these work together.