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Jefferson Award Winner Serves Health Needs Of Bay Area Teens With Mobile Clinic

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Sharon-Chin_BIO-HEAD Sharon Chin
Sharon Chin is a general assignment reporter who also profiles...
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EAST PALO ALTO (KPIX 5) — Dr. Seth Ammerman helped start an immunization clinic for underserved young people in East Palo Alto. After realizing they needed much more than their shots, he launched a clinic on wheels.

When the big blue coach rolls in, set-up takes about 45-minutes, and then the Teen Health Van is open. The doctor comes to you.

Ammerman is Medical Director and founder of the Teen Health Van.

It helps young people like 22-year-old Sandy Olivares with checkups and more.

“I was having trouble with headaches and migraines,” Sandy said. “I’m thankful that they’re here.”

The Teen Health Van stops twice a week, reaching homeless and low-income 10- to 25- year olds, mostly at schools from San Francisco to San Jose.

The 18-year-old community outreach project of Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital offers comprehensive primary care for free.

“The kids that we work with, a lot of people have given up on them. But we haven’t,” said Ammerman.

Since it started, the Teen Health Van has seen more than 4,000 young people, and Ammerman said it’s making a difference.

“We know we can help these kids turn their lives around. And we see it,” he said.

On this day, the doctor is at Los Altos High School with a nurse practitioner, dietician, and social worker for counseling.

They commonly encounter problems like alcohol and drugs, anxiety and depression, risky sexual activity, poor nutrition, and lack of immunizations.

17-year-old Laura Yedra hadn’t seen a doctor in years, so she and her Mom are thankful for the man they call “Dr. A.”

“Well, it means a lot to be happy (and) feel safe, because there’s no other health insurance we can get,” Laura said.

Seven out of ten patients come back for care.

Los Altos High Vice Principal Perla Pasallo says students trust Dr. A.

“He’s so loving and caring and genuine. The kids understand that he is there just to make their life better,” she said.

So for providing free health care for underserved young people, this week’s Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Dr. Seth Ammerman.

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