The Eastside Youth Clinic, which serves homeless and at-risk youth, is shutting its doors today after three years of operation. It plans to reopen...
The Eastside Youth Clinic, which serves homeless and at-risk youth, is shutting its doors today after three years of operation. It plans to reopen in the fall as part of another health clinic on the same campus.
The youth clinic is among about a dozen clinics operated by Community Health Centers of King County (CHCKC), a private, nonprofit community-health service organization. CHCKC plans to integrate the youth clinic into its Eastside Community Health Center; both clinics have been operating on the Eastside Human Services Campus in Redmond.
“We think we can offer more services to these youth by integrating with the regular clinic,” said Diana Olsen, CHCKC marketing and community-relations manager. “They will still have separate exam rooms and waiting areas.”
However, some former youth clinic staff members say they are concerned that closing the clinic, even temporarily, will impede the ability of homeless youth to get medical treatment. Some are critical of the merger plan and are concerned that the young people who had been using the clinic may shy away from it now.
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“The homeless youth are underserved as it is,” said Linda McDermott, a nurse practitioner who formerly worked at the clinic. “They have a hard time accessing services and dealing with the system. They also have problems that aren’t always able to be dealt with in the average 12-minute doctor’s appointment.”
Another clinic staff member, Laura McPherson, a mental-health counselor, said she hopes the new clinic is successful, but she is concerned how the closure will affect the young people who have been using the services.
“Integrating with a community clinic won’t work for these homeless kids,” McPherson said. “The hand holding they get at the youth clinic is important. Developing a rapport with them … so they will open up takes time.”
Eastside Community Health Center
The center, at 16315 N.E. 87th Street, unit B-6, Redmond, is open from 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Mondays, and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays. Beginning this fall, it will remain open until 8 p.m. on Tuesdays as well as Mondays.
The youth clinic served people between the ages of 13 and 24, averaging six to 12 clients during its once-a-week operation from 6 to 9 p.m. on Wednesdays.
CHCKC has been taking a closer look at the clinic in the past year to determine how it can better serve its intended population, Olsen said. Integrating with the regular clinic will make it easier to process lab work, and there will be a more efficient use of resources, she said.
CHCKC has started work on remodeling the Eastside health clinic to include separate waiting and exam rooms for the youth. Completion is expected by fall but could be earlier, said Olsen.
Until the youth clinic reopens, young people are welcome to go to the regular clinic for any medical services, she said. CHCKC also has a nurse on call to answer questions or direct young patients to other available services.
Many who use the youth clinic come from Friends of Youth’s outreach programs, including those staying at The Landing, a young-adult shelter in Bellevue, said Marci Curtin, program manager of Friends of Youth emergency shelter and homeless-youth outreach.
“There will be some growing pains, and some people who were attached to the clinic will no longer be working there,” Curtin said. “But regardless of the changes, [CHCKC officials have] said they will make sure the kids get served.”
Rachel Tuinstra: 206-515-5637 or firstname.lastname@example.org