The Adolescent and Young Adult Health Clinic and EversCare Clinic are working together to identify social, economic and environmental factors underlying children health problems and connect families to the resources they need.
“What did you have for dinner last night?” a University of Mississippi Medical Center physician asked a young patient.
“Last night, it wasn’t my turn to have dinner,” she replied.
Heart-breaking answers like this are why adolescent medicine physicians at the Adolescent and Young Adult Health Clinic at the Jackson Medical Mall now ask their young patients questions regarding food, housing and other environmental and family issues. And, patients whose answers indicate insecurity in basic needs like food and shelter are then seen by the nurse practitioner who staffs the new EversCare clinic at the Myrlie Evers Williams Institute for the Elimination of Health Disparities at the Jackson Medical Mall.
EversCare is one way that UMMC is working to improve the health of Mississippi’s children and youth. Its goal is to identify social, economic and environmental factors that leave children hungry, sick or unwell, and help their parents find the resources they need to address these factors and improve the conditions that stand in the way of their being able to provide their children a healthy, stable home environment.
When evaluating a young patient, adolescent medicine physicians use a two-question screening process produced by Children’s Healthwatch, a program of Boston Medical, an academic medical center providing care that focuses in part on children’s poverty issues. The children are asked if they’ve worried about running out of food in the last year, or if they’ve been without money to buy food over the last year. If the child answers in the affirmative to these questions they are referred to EversCare.
The EversCare staff keeps the conversation light in an effort to make patients and families feel comfortable and open to talking about barriers that contribute to food insecurity and other challenges. They speak privately with children first, most of them older adolescents, before talking to their parent or guardian. They ask them questions about what else is going on in their lives. Do they have transportation? Does mom or dad have a job? Do their parents or guardians have issues that require the child has to be the adult in the house?
Once the problem areas have been identified, the staff of EversCare is able to work with the patient’s families to connect them to the resources they need to help them live healthier, happier lives.
For more information about the Young Adult Health Clinic, a part of Children’s of Mississippi, or to make an appointment, visit www.ummchealth.com/children/ or call (888) 815-2005.