UT Teen Health and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services host community dialogue

UT Teen Health, an initiative of The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UT Health San Antonio), has been successfully collaborating with community youth organizations since 2003 to implement evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention (TPP) programs in South Texas.  

Notably, in July 2023, UT Teen Health received a $9.86 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Population Affairs (OPA) to reduce teen birth rates in UT Health San Antonio’s 38 county service area, which includes several rural communities and a 69% Hispanic population.

On Friday, February 23, Robert Hromas, MD, dean of the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine and vice president for medical affairs at UT Health San Antonio, welcomed Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Population Affairs Jessica Swafford Marcella and her team for a day-long community dialogue. The event involved leadership, attending in person and virtually, from several of the health science center’s strategic partners from across the region, including The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth Houston), Healthy Futures of Texas, Bexar County and UT Teen Health, among others. 

After a lively and engaging icebreaker, the morning round table session focused on community partners sharing their programs’ successes and challenges. The topics for discussion included staff safety, adolescent confidentiality, access to health care and other supportive services, as well as the role of the TPP Program in supporting the community’s adolescents and young adults. 

In the afternoon session, OPA Deputy Assistant Secretary Marcella led the community members and youth representatives from various community programs across San Antonio in a discussion on OPA’s recently launched initiative, Take Action for Adolescents – A Call to Action for Adolescent Health and Well-Being. The nationwide initiative aims to ensure that all adolescents and young adults have the safety, resources and support they need to thrive, be healthy and reach their full potential. 

Kristen Plastino, MD

“Bringing together community partners and those who receive UT Teen Health services to discuss these initiatives that directly impact them is of the utmost importance. We must prioritize the health and well-being of our youth populations ages 10 to 24,” said Kristen Plastino, MD, founder and CEO of UT Teen Health, vice chair of clinical operations and professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UT Health San Antonio and senior medical director for UT practices at University Health. “Our goals are to educate and support healthy decision-making among adolescents and their families in all areas of health – physical, mental and emotional. As well as to decrease high school drop-out rates and teen birth rates in South Texas with the ultimate goal to  set our youth up for health and wellness now and in the future.” 

To learn more about UT Teen Health at UT Health San Antonio, click here. 

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