In honor of the 20th anniversary of the Teen Xpress program offered through The Howard Phillips Center for Children & Families, Eileen Navarro, MSN, ARNP, Family Nurse Practitioner for Teen Xpress offered her thoughts on the team, their success and how they should celebrate 20-years.
The Teen Xpress team provides high quality, comprehensive medical, mental health, nutrition and case management services for teens in Orange County aged 11-18. These services are provided on two mobile units at various schools, where we come to the teen in their community and help those most vulnerable and uninsured. We assist the kids with staying healthy and connect them to established medical, mental health and dental services. The students Teen Xpress serves are challenged with health illiteracy, language barriers, poverty, homelessness, food insecurities, transportation barriers and often lack an understanding of how to navigate resources and insurance.
How long have you been working with the program?
I have been working with Teen Xpress since October 1997, when the program started.
What makes the program so successful that it has lasted 20 years?
Teen Xpress is unique and adolescent friendly—specifically designed with trained adolescent providers who work to promote health, wellness and safety in a confidential environment. Teen Xpress is like no other program in Florida, and can provide professional, one-on-one comprehensive tailored care that meets the teens and families in their community. The program promotes medical, mental health or nutrition services to meet the preventative health needs of the teen, as well as assistance in navigating specialists and other resources as needed. Teen Xpress is also imbedded in the community through school health, and present all year in Orange County, which makes us familiar and easily recognized. We believe in quality, not quantity to gain trust and appreciation. Our services are especially important to help vulnerable future adults gain skills necessary to prevent diseases and understand how to manage their health and wellness.
What is your biggest wish for the future of the program?
I would hope that Teen Xpress could have a sustainable full team running with the addition of an RNCase Coordinator. We should do the very best with the population we serve. Because our families are so vulnerable and have so many needs, it is crucial for us to have this RN Case Coordinator who can assist families with understanding the various conditions providers diagnose, and assist with referrals. We are now finding more teens that have gone without basic care for years and are pre-diabetic, severely obese, asthmatic, lack vaccinations and suffer from chronic mental health conditions without psychiatric evaluations. Ultimately, I would like us to have two full teams running that both include a LicensedMental Health Counselor, Nurse Practitioner or Certified Medical Assistant. I have also always wanted to have a set partner for dental care, dental hygiene education and services to assist teens with ongoing chronic dental decay, which affects their eating habits, school grades,moods and health overall.
How would you like to celebrate the 20th anniversary?
I’d like to celebrate with other Howard Phillips Center staff, the teens we serve and our partners –including the Orange County School Health and Wellness Advisory Committee, the CEO of OrlandoHealth, the Orlando Health Foundation President, Community Leadership Council Advisory members,other key champions of our program and possibly local media. I am not big on personal recognition, it is all about the kids and their families and that is what drives me and gives me inspiration. Recently, I reconnected with a former high school client that I saw between 2003-07. She saw the mobile unit in the community and came back to say hello and tell us how much we helped her and made a difference in her life when no one else cared. That is how I celebrate—knowing that I make a difference.