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By Salwa Choucair
AVANCE-San Antonio offers parent education and support programs in at-risk communities including enrollment in Head Start, a federally funded preschool program. The School of Nursing provides pediatric care to the children of these families from ages two weeks to 21 years at the AVANCE Community Outreach Clinic.
The clinic is open weekdays for sick and well visits and is staffed with pediatric nurse practitioner Johanna Matos, M.S.N., RN, CPNP, clinical assistant professor; a registered nurse, and a licensed vocational nurse.
One of the main goals of the clinic is to educate parents in the AVANCE community about the importance of immunizations and the standards set by the state of Texas in order for their children to enter school.
“Many of these families are either undocumented or are waiting on their immigration status to be assigned,” says Matos, “and they are not receiving the health services they need.”
The on-site clinic provides the vaccines needed for the children to start school and referrals to other health care providers such as a pediatrician or dentist near their homes.
“We see children for disease prevention and offer health education for the family because most of them are new to San Antonio or the Texas system,” Matos says. “We are providing a bridge for these families as well as health care. For example, we may have a family that tells us they are struggling with food, and we refer them to the food bank.”
Matos also offers educational health seminars for the families at AVANCE-San Antonio. Recently she conducted a seminar on common childhood diseases and explained what symptoms a parent or guardian should look for before taking a child to the pediatrician or urgent care.
“I believe that having this opportunity to work with AVANCE in this particular community is a win-win situation. It is a learning experience for us and for the parents as well. As a health care provider, you must look at the whole spectrum or entire picture of a family from financial struggles to where they came from or their culture along with shelter and food. With this partnership, we can help facilitate a family’s needs.”