MGH Roca Adolescent Health Center

The MGH Roca Adolescant Clinic introduces high-risk young people to the health care system with an age-appropriate and culturally sensitive approach to care, encourages young people to take a proactive role in making healthy life choices, and improves young people’s understanding of their health needs.


Young people in Chelsea face relatively high rates of pregnancy, Chlamydia, and HIV. Some of the young people at highest risk are not accessing appropriate health services. To bring care to young people facing multiple challenges, rather than wait for the population to come to care, MGH Chelsea operates a fully licensed satellite clinic at Roca, a Chelsea-based organization for young people at high risk of poor health and other life outcomes.  The clinic uses an innovative approach to engage harder-to-reach youth by integrating health promotion into the arts, education, and leadership programming at Roca.

The partnership with Roca allows MGH to reach out to a group of young people who, for many reasons, are unable or unwilling to get care within a more traditional medical setting. Such barriers include not feeling comfortable or welcomed in a health care setting frequented primarily by adults or young children, and the false sense of security that as teenagers, they do not face health-related risks. Young people who come to Roca for dance programs, GED classes, and services for pregnant and parenting teens. All can seek care at the MGH clinic, and youth workers at Roca actively refer program clients for health services. 


The goals of the MGH Roca Adolescent Helath Center are to;

  • Introduce young people to the health care system with an age-appropriate approach to care.
  • Encourage young people to take a proactive role in making healthy life choices.
  • Provide access to culturally sensitive health information.
  • Improve young people’s understanding of their health needs.

About this Program

The MGH Roca Adolescent Health Center provides comprehensive health risk assessments, STD testing and treatment, HIV testing, and counseling and contraceptive services.  A bilingual, bicultural family planning counselor discusses relationship issues with patients, and makes assessments for depression and relationship violence.  The counselor also provides group education about contraception and sexually transmitted diseases to adolescent mothers and high-risk youth.  The clinic is a training site for nurse practitioner students, medical students, and medical residents interested in community-based medicine, with the intention of steering students toward future career opportunities in similar settings. 

Roca has changed its primary focus from young women to young men, aged 18-24 involved in juvenile justice system. Challenges exist for the Youth Health Center to improve utilization for this population based on their needs and perceptions of preventive and primary care.


In FY2013:

  • The health center served 276 young people, mostly women (201). Efforts to reach young men and women were strong, but attendance varied for both men's and women’s programs.
  • Roca was a teaching site for MGH primary care residents, medical students, and MGH Institute of Health Professions Nurse Practitioner students.
  • Roca continued substance abuse using CRAFFT, an evidence-based screening tool with motivational interviewing, resulting in a relatively high positive rate. This identified a crucial need to have  access for referring youth to substance abuse services that are appropriate for age and backgrounds.
  • Three sessions were conducted with young mothers and MGH Institute of Health Professions Nurse Practitioner students in Adolescent Health.
  • Roca collaborated with Kathleen Miller, of MGH Community Helath Associates, to celebrate Circle of Red events for 2013.


Contact Us

Luz Betancourt

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