Girls Inc. partners with Nebraska Medicine to open health clinic

Girls Inc. members are going to get a real-world lesson in how to navigate the health care system.

A health clinic will open in December at Girls Inc. headquarters, near 45th and Maple Streets.

The clinic, in partnership with Nebraska Medicine, will serve as a primary care location for Girls Inc. members — girls ages 5 to 18. The nonprofit runs after-school programs for girls.

Services offered at the location will include school and sports physicals, chronic disease management, wellness checks, reproductive health education and treatment for illnesses, such as strep throat and sinus infections.

In the future the clinic could offer behavioral and mental health services, said Dr. Andrea Jones, the clinic’s medical director.

Officials hope the clinic teaches girls to navigate the health care system.

Girls, particularly teens, will learn to make their own appointments, how to talk to health care professionals and how to ask questions about their health, said Jill Lynch-Sosa, director of student health operations at Nebraska Medicine.

“There’s a hesitancy on the part of the girls to seek care, and that’s because they’re uncomfortable sometimes in traditional clinics. We want to teach them to have a voice and how to stand up and be assertive with what their needs are, be educated on what their options are,” Lynch-Sosa said.

Eventually directors hope to expand services to families of Girls Inc. members and to the community.

The clinic is part of the organization’s $15 million expansion project, most of which was funded by local foundations.

Girls Inc. previously offered some health services, such as scoliosis screenings and hearing and vision exams, said Executive Director Roberta Wilhelm. But the organization lacked a professional space to offer services on a regular basis.

Wilhelm and other staff members also saw barriers that parents and girls faced in obtaining health care, such as transportation and prohibitive work hours.

The clinic will be staffed by three Nebraska Medicine employees and be open Monday through Friday from 3 to 7 p.m.

“It makes it convenient for them,” said Jones, the medical director. “Hopefully they’ll be able to establish a relationship with us.”

[Source:-Omaha World-Herald]

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