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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Wilmington Health Access for Teens, or “WHAT”?

We are a community-based 501 (c)(3) non-profit health care organization located in Wilmington, North Carolina. We were established in 1997, as a result of a group of concerned citizens and agencies coming together and identifying the unmet need in our community to address and meet the many unique health care needs of adolescents and young adults. We offer comprehensive primary medical care, mental health, nutrition and prevention services to adolescents and young adults ages 11-24 at our main facility on Oleander Drive. In addition, we extend our services by applying the nationally-recognized method of health care delivery for youth – school-based health care – to offer comprehensive health care services onsite to students at Ashley, Laney, Hoggard, and New Hanover High Schools. Our mission is to improve the health of the youth of our community by ensuring access for all to quality physical and mental health services and by providing prevention, education and outreach services to promote optimal health.

Who does WHAT serve?

We serve adolescents and young adults ages 11-24 in southeastern North Carolina, predominantly New Hanover County where its main facility and three school-based health centers are located.

Are WHAT’s services free?

No. Just like many other health care practices, we rely on reimbursements for our services from commercial insurers and government programs to fund our services. WHAT accepts private insurance as well as Medicaid and NC Health Choice. Please contact us if you have any questions about your own health insurance plan, or would like to learn more about other financial assistance options.

Why is WHAT needed?

A number of potential barriers exist for adolescents and young adults seeking health care, including a lack of financial support, insurance, physicians and other health professionals who are trained in adolescent health, and transportation; cultural and language barriers; discomfort with or lack of understanding of who provides adolescent health services; and concern about the confidentiality of health services. To address and minimize these barriers to accessing care, we collaborate with parents, schools, primary care practices, various community-based partners, funders, and others in the community, while we work to enhance the overall coordination of care and improve health outcomes.

Who does WHAT benefit?

Our services provide numerous benefits and potential benefits to adolescents, young adults, parents, families, schools and communities, including:

  • Improving access to care for adolescents and young adults who may not otherwise receive care elsewhere.
  • Minimizing lost classroom time for students and lost work time for parents by providing school-based health care.
  • Improving follow-up compliance with care.
  • Providing an opportunity for adolescents to seek out or take advantage of services, whereas they may not otherwise in traditional settings.
  • Providing behavioral risk assessments and ongoing preventive strategies, especially through on-site mental health services within the school setting that bring enhanced behavioral observation and clinical management in collaboration with parents and school staff.
  • Playing an integral role in the overall school program and wider community (e.g., presenting health education and prevention programs to faculty and classes; attending parent conferences with school counselors; attending parent/teacher association meetings; and being a resource for any school health issues/emergencies that can arise).

How does WHAT work within the school-based environment?

Through our long-standing partnership with New Hanover County Schools and other community organizations, we provide comprehensive primary medical care, mental health services, nutrition and preventive care to students and young adults to ensure optimal well-being, learning readiness and promising futures. Each of our school-based health centers (SBHCs) is staffed by an integrated, multi-disciplinary team that delivers adolescent- and family-centered care, and includes:

  • A mid-level primary care provider (e.g., family nurse practitioner).
  • A mental health professional such as a licensed clinical social worker or a licensed psychological associate.
  • A part-time registered dietician/nutritionist.
  • A site coordinator, who is a certified medical assistant.
  • A rotating registered nurse.

Our team of providers work closely with adolescents and young adults, parents, schools, collaborative partners and others to ensure the best possible care and health outcomes for the student population at each school. Our SBHCs are open every day school is in session from 8:00 am – 4:00 pm, while our main facility on Oleander Drive is open year-around, with extended evening hours. During off-hours, we ensure patients 24-hour, on-call coverage.

Does WHAT duplicate already existing services in the community?

No. We work in partnership and collaborative regularly with other primary care, mental health and other service providers in the community to ensure accessible, continuous, comprehensive, family-centered, coordinated, compassionate, and culturally-effective health care to all adolescents and young adults. One very clear benefit of our SBHCs is their accessibility and affordability. The centers are located within the schools, minimizing barriers to access, and every student is served regardless of his or her ability to pay. To this day, we remain the only health care provider in New Hanover County exclusively for adolescent health care and continues to build strong, collaborative relationships with several organizations and other area providers throughout the county, region and statewide.

How does WHAT demonstrate results and how are they measured?

To track results and ensure improvements in clinical quality measures and health outcomes, we are involved in local and statewide collaborative projects and initiatives in which our clinical practices and patient outcomes are regularly tracked and reported on. Supporting and advancing our ability to effectively measure and demonstrate our results rests in our adoption, implementation, and utilization of our electronic health record (EHR) system in 2009. Using our EHR, we are continually working to improve the safety, quality and efficiency of care while benchmarking the delivery of our services and outcomes achieved with state and national health care standards.

How is WHAT funded?

As a 501 (c)(3) non-profit charitable organization, we are supported by public and private sources of funding, including grants and community support through individual and corporate donations, as well as patient reimbursements. Specifically, public and private grant funds account for approximately 55% of organizational revenue, while patient reimbursements account for about 43% followed by corporate and individual support at 2%. We accept Medicaid and private insurance plans. We also offer eligibility and enrollment services through our onsite family and children’s Medicaid caseworker. For those who are not eligible for a public plan, we offer a sliding-fee scale for payment for services. Together, these public and private funding sources help keep us solvent and growing.

Does WHAT offer volunteer/internship opportunities?

Yes! We welcome the opportunity to work with volunteers and students in the Wilmington area and beyond who are eager to learn more about what we do and gain valuable work experience. Whether seeking a community volunteer opportunity, an opportunity to conduct a short-term, community-based project, or a more in-depth/hands-on experience such as an internship, we provide various opportunities to engage students as well as interested members of the community. For more information, please contact Mary Martin.