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Founded 39 years ago by a group of concerned citizens who wanted to address health disparities among teenage moms, the Corner Health Center in downtown Ypsilanti has grown into a tremendous local resource: a full-service integrated health clinic that addresses the physical, mental, behavioral, and social needs of local teenagers, young adults, and their children--regardless of their ability to pay for services.
In terms of physical health, the center offers its clients, age 12 - 25, preventive services like physicals and immunizations; diagnosis and treatment of illnesses and infections; reproductive health care services; and pediatric care for their children through its on-site medical director and community benefit partnerships with Michigan Medicine and the St. Joseph Mercy Health System.
In terms of social supports, the Corner houses a pantry and store with free food, clothes, toiletries, and essentials; social workers who help clients access housing, transportation, and other services; and educators who run a maternal-infant health education program for pregnant and parenting women as well as a parenting program for young dads.
And for mental health and substance use treatment services, Corner Health has long brought in outside providers to offer on-site psychiatric care--including evaluations, counseling, and medication--to its clients. Since November, thanks to a partnership made possible by the Washtenaw County Public Safety and Mental Health Preservation Millage, Corner Health has been able to secure those services at a significantly reduced cost through Washtenaw County Community Mental Health.
Dr. Thomas Atkins, the Michigan Medicine-trained child and adolescent psychiatrist who works from the Corner Health Center on Fridays, is already booked through the end of May, says Versell Smith, executive director of the health center.
“We allocate more time for psychiatric appointments here,” says Smith. “It takes young people a while to warm up to adults sometimes, and particularly if a young person comes forward and acknowledges that they are struggling with mental health issues, substance use concerns, eating disorders, life challenges, or trauma, then those appointments shouldn’t be rushed.”
The partnership with Community Mental Health also makes it easier for the center to refer clients to the agency’s expanded crisis, access, resource, engagement, and support (CARES) team, says Smith, as well as to receive young adults who have been stabilized by the CARES team and are ready to transition to ongoing community care.