Teen Health Week: Senior Check-Out

Legacy puts high school seniors at the helm of their health care as they set off for the real world.

By Barrett White


Oh, how I wish someone had explained to me the meanings of deductibles, FQHCs, university clinics, emergency rooms, and private or marketplace health insurance. In fact, there are many adults who don’t even really know what some of these things are. For some, the first time you’re really presented with a deductible, for instance, is when or if you find yourself in the hospital for the first time as an adult.

Granted, for some students there is the option to stay on your parents’ insurance until you’re 26. But what if your parents don’t have insurance?

To prepare young adults for the coming real world, students at KIPP and YES Prep schools in Houston – where Legacy has clinics co-located inside the campuses – students are taught to be health literate from a young age as they move up in grades until their senior year, when they’re given their “senior check-out.”

What does it mean to be “health literate?” Simply put, Legacy works with students to help them be a part of their own health care. Legacy staff teach the students about how their bodies work, what to expect, and how to navigate the changes they experience as they happen. The conversations help students understand their own bodies and the medicine that goes into them, if any. These topics allow for open communication during which students get a better understanding of the care they are receiving and should expect.

By the time students are seniors, they ought to be up to speed. Before leaving school for whatever the world holds for them, Legacy staff on campus provide them their check-out. Whether a student is going to university, a trade school, or directly into the workforce, there are resources available to them that can help them retain control of their health care. The check-out helps the student identify these resources so that they’re prepared to utilize them.

The senior check-out folder comes with personal documents for the student to retain for their own records, or to take to a new physician in the case of the student no longer seeking care at Legacy (for example, if they plan to go to college in another city outside of Legacy’s footprint). The documents include their family and medical history, current problems, current medications, and immunization record.

For those planning to go to college or a trade school, the folder will also contain school-specific resources for the school that the student plans to attend, such as the student health center location, hours, phone number, and services provided; the information for the nearest pharmacy; and the closest emergency room.

And finally, miscellaneous other documents that a young adult will find handy as they leave high school, like information on birth control and safe sex; alcohol safety; drug safety; stress management; mental health resources; eating healthy on a budget; and options for staying fit in college.

Legacy cares for all our patients, regardless of age. That means that though you may be young, that certainly doesn’t mean that Legacy believes you’re incapable of understanding your health. To achieve the best health outcomes for the community, an agency must set them up for success from the very beginning.