October 17, 2022 by Tammy Howell
North Country HealthCare’s Payson location is participating in a program to improve care for adolescents.
The 18-month intensive program created by the University of Michigan is utilized by health centers across the country.
Once the program is complete, our Payson location will be evaluated on how it has improved access to care for young patients.
North Country HealthCare – Payson is one of ten health centers across the state that is participating in an intensive, 18-month best-practices-driven program designed to address the unique healthcare needs of young people. The program aims to address these needs by removing barriers and improving healthcare delivery. All ten of the health centers participating in the program are part of the Arizona Family Health Partnership (AFHP), which is Arizona’s designated Title X agency.
The program, called the “Adolescent Champion Model” (ACM), is an evidence-based intervention developed by the University of Michigan. The program is funded by the Arizona Department of Health Services and managed through a collaboration with AFHP “to assess and improve a health center’s culture, environment, policies and practices by identifying and addressing barriers to these critical services for youth,” said AFHP Adolescent Health Program Manager Tracy Pedrotti, MPH. “Adolescents need access to high-quality healthcare services to achieve optimal health and wellbeing, providing them an opportunity to thrive as they transition into adulthood.”
This is the program’s fourth cohort. Participating health centers include:
“Health centers successfully completing the 18-month ACM implementation program and those going above and beyond to put in place additional best practices can earn certification as an ‘adolescent-centered environment’ from the University of Michigan,” Pedrotti said.
Requirements for certification include, but are not limited to:
Ten Arizona health centers have already been certified, and ten are participating in the third cohort, which concludes in November. The fourth cohort began in May with an additional 10 health centers and will conclude in October 2023.
Youth surveys conducted after implementation of the program have shown positive perceptions of health center environments and staff being welcoming to teens, particularly in addressing confidentiality, which is a concern that often keeps young people from accessing health services.
Pedrotti notes that with each new cohort, prior Champions often sign on with a new location from their health network and brand-new partners participate as word spreads about the program’s effectiveness. North Country HealthCare clinics in Winslow and Flagstaff are participating in the ongoing Cohort 3, while its Payson clinic signed on with the fourth cohort.
Wesley Community and Health Centers has one health center that has earned certification with plans to have the entire network complete the program. Chiricahua Health Center’s mobile unit was the first in the nation to earn Gold Level certification during the first cohort and now its Pediatric Center of Excellence is participating as well.
“The Adolescent Champion Model improves healthcare delivery for young people by identifying and addressing barriers to optimal health services and empowering young patients to establish positive lifelong health behaviors,” said Pedrotti said. “Achieving certification is an intense process, but evidence shows the outcomes are significant for young people, whose unique healthcare needs often go unmet.”
For more information about the Adolescent Champion Model, visit www.arizonafamilyhealth.org/adolescent-champion-model.
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