Medical Clinic: For all youth 24 and under on Sutter Street
Everyone deserves good health and kids, in particular, should be able to count on the resilience of their younger age to carry them through the harshest of times. But life on the streets quickly reduces the chances that a homeless or at-risk youth can maintain any sense of physical well-being. The lack of shelter, the stress of street life, the inability to stay clean—these make youth on the street much more susceptible to illness than the rest of us. And because many at risk youth are forced into the sex trade in order to survive, or resort to substance abuse to abate their despair, homeless youth are also susceptible to much more serious health issues including tuberculosis, hepatitis, and HIV infection.
Larkin Street Youth Service’s Medical Clinic on Sutter Street targets all of these health care problems while also promoting general wellness, health education and prevention. Operated in partnership with the San Francisco Department of Public Health, the Clinic is conveniently located next door to the Drop-In Center in San Francisco’s Polk Gulch neighborhood. The Larkin Street Medical Clinic is many kids’ first contact with our services and maintains a full medical staff including a medical doctor, two family nurse practitioners, two registered nurses, and a medical assistant.
The Clinic is open five days a week and does not require an appointment. On a drop-in basis, youth come for physicals, pregnancy tests, TB and Hepatitis screening, and prescriptions. They also receive treatment for common illnesses that would otherwise go unaddressed until they progressed to serious levels, possibly requiring more painful and expensive emergency treatment. Medical care is delivered respectfully with specialized knowledge of the challenges faced by young people on the streets. This approach builds trust that encourages youth to seek further services offered by Larkin Street to help build a foundation and successfully live independently off the streets.
Each year, Larkin Street’s clinic provides critical health services to approximately 700 youth without access to medical care.