Youth Clinic Seeks Safe Harbor at Homeless Prenatal Program

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Facing a $400,000-plus budget deficit, the New Generation Health Center, located at 625 Potrero Avenue, had been slated to close last summer. The Center, founded and operated by the University of California, San Francisco more than 20 years ago, provides reproductive health services to mainly low-income young adults in a confidential environment.  It’s significantly reliant on philanthropy, funding from which dwindled in recent years. Patient visits have also declined, further reducing revenue. With New Gen’s termination looming, the San Francisco Department of Public Health planned to refer its patients to other public or nonprofit clinics.

However, reproductive rights advocates believe New Gen is vital, its services difficult to replicate at clinics geared for a wider range of age groups. Last year, Joi Jackson-Morgan, executive director of 3rd Street Youth Center & Clinic, created an online petition, Stop UCSF From Closing New Generation Clinic, addressed to UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood. The petition garnered 5,262 signatures, and described New Generation as, “A safe haven in a City where navigating and accessing the health care system is nearly impossible.”

Spurred by community pressure, UCSF decided to continue funding the youth clinic for another year.

Rebecca Jackson, MD, chief of service for OB-GYN at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, stressed the importance of the clinic’s free-standing nature, separate from the hospital campus, to facilitate privacy for youth. Its services include pregnancy testing, contraception, sexually transmitted disease testing and treatment, and health exams. In addition to the clinic, New Generation conducts sexual health outreach to San Francisco schools, for which Jackson has received abundant positive feedback from the community.

“The decision was made to close New Gen last year because we were facing a significant funding deficit,” explained Jackson. “The University decided to help keep it open for another year to give us time to search for another alternative. In response, a monthly working group was created to explore different alternatives.”

The favored option is a collaboration between New Generation and the Homeless Prenatal Program, located less than a block away at 2500 18th Street. Although details of the proposed partnership are being negotiated, the tentative plan is for New Generation to move into and lease space in the 18th Street building, a shift that could offer the clinic greater security, since HPP owns the 26,800 square-foot property. However, the change will only likely occur if New Generation is able to raise sufficient funds to demonstrate financially security for the next five years. Renovations on the 18th Street building to accommodate New Gen’s relocation won’t begin until HPP’s board of directors deems the clinic financially solvent.

Jackson explained that with New Gen’s lease expiring and rent rising, it’s infeasible to continue at the Potrero Avenue location, which is a larger space than the clinic needs. The move to HPP’s facility would allow New Gen to be in a smaller area more suited to operational requirements, with lower overhead and staffing costs.

Martha Ryan, HPP’s executive director, founded the nonprofit organization in 1989 to promote safe deliveries and healthy babies for low-income mothers. Today, its overarching mission is to end childhood poverty by helping clients secure permanent housing, teaching prenatal classes, providing postpartum support and training community health workers. Although prenatal support is a core function, HPP’s services extend to job training and an in-house computer technology center. HPP isn’t affiliated with UCSF, but hosts training sessions for midwives that work at the University.

“The HPP board approved moving forward with the co-location of New Gen within HPP with the stipulation that we secure five years of budgeted operating deficit and renovation costs prior to breaking ground,” Jackson stated. “We estimate that to be $2.5 million and we have an incredibly tight timeline to meet that goal:  May 30! But, we are going for it, and hopeful that there are many people who care about New Gen’s mission so that we will succeed.”

The potential partnership’s benefits are envisioned to extend to both entities. HPP isn’t a clinic; with the addition of New Gen, clients that come to research jobs on the internet or attend a yoga class will be able to access various health services. A youth who visits New Generation for a pregnancy test can attend a HPP prenatal class, if needed.

One of the goals of co-locating is to preserve New Generation as a separate, designated, place for youth. Tsao Design, an architecture firm, is designing a physical space that’s both connected and separate from HPP. It’s likely that the existing names, New Generation and Homeless Prenatal Program, will be retained.

“The great benefit of co-locating within HPP is that our missions are synergistic; HPP’s mission is to break the cycle of childhood poverty, and family planning is a key contributor to future economic stability,” offered Jackson. “HPP offers services to all low-income families with job training, computer skills, financial skills and housing assistance. Both sets of clients will benefit from this co-location. New Gen’s patients can access the many resources at HPP, and HPP’s clients can seamlessly access family planning services.”

New Generation’s lease ends in September; UCSF is expected to cease financial support by July.  A working group, consisting of representatives from UCSF and the Department of Public Health, as well as community members, is cultivating potential donors and funding sources. In the interim, the HPP board is making final determinations regarding the financial feasibility of the partnership.