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HiTOPS Closes Princeton Health Care Clinic for Teens and Young Adults

HitopsThe HiTOPS Adolescent Health Center on Wiggins Street in downtown Princeton will no longer provide clinical services to teens and young adults after tomorrow.

Educational programs and support programs will continue and expand going forward and the office on Wiggins Street will remain open, representatives of the non-profit announced today.

The agency cites the changing health care landscape and a careful assessment of client clinic needs as reasons for the decision by the HiTOPS’ Board of Trustees and staff to decide to discontinue providing health care.

Over the last few years, HiTOPS has seen a significant drop in client numbers, according to the agency. HiTOPS attributes the decline to several factors, including the fact that young adults now have greater access to parents’ insurance and are more comfortable with their parents knowing that they are seeking reproductive health care services. The agency says young women are being taken to the gynecologist by their mothers, and minute clinics and pharmacies are able to provide vaccines, sports physicals and emergency contraception

“Our clinical care was unique and very, very special, but it was also tremendously expensive.” HiTOPS Executive Director Elizabeth Casparian said.

HiTOPS was only taking one type of health insurance from clients. Without the infrastructure to take other insurances, which includes electronic medical records or a dedicated billing office, HiTOPS felt that it was not the most efficient use of resources in the face of diminishing client numbers and increased options for clients.

“Our educational outreach and our support programs are where we want to focus our attention and resources now because we know that they are having a significant impact on the lives of the youth we serve,” Casparian said. “Going forward, HiTOPS will be expanding its educational outreach to communities throughout the state where there are high rates of unplanned teen pregnancy, HIV and sexually transmitted diseases – particularly in areas of economic adversity where schools and youth-serving agencies are struggling to provide necessary comprehensive sexuality education programs.”

HiTOPS will be working with high-risk middle school and high school aged adolescents in four areas: Pregnancy, HIV and STD prevention; reduction in sexual and intimate partner violence; LGBTQIA support and bullying prevention; and professional development for adults who work with youth living with trauma, poverty and violence.

“ We are looking to rent our clinic space to a health care provider, and depending on who is selected, similar services might be provided on the HiTOPS site, but under the umbrella of another entity, possibly a federally qualified health center or a private practice,” Casparian said.

Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

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