Core Principles

Young People Need to be Healthy to Make it in this World

We know...

that physical health and emotional well-being in adolescence is the foundation of a productive and fulfilling adult life.

We believe...

that every teenager and young adult has the right to proactive, inclusive and compassionate health care that demonstrably improves their chances of preventing disease and dysfunction.

We’re guided...

by our conviction that excellent care includes engaging our patients, respecting them, and providing them with reliable, developmentally- appropriate information and guidance.

Our Story

Adolescents may seem to be the healthiest people on earth, but the fact is they have unique health and wellness needs that are often overlooked. And that can put them on a trajectory for health issues affecting every aspect of their adult lives.

For more than four decades we’ve known that too many young people in New York and the nation have too little access to the high-quality, specialized, vital care they need. And that there is a calculable impact on the vitality of their communities, the city and country. We know that the health and resilience of young people isn’t a luxury for a strong society. It’s essential.

That’s why we’re here.

The Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center was established in 1968 by Dr. Joan Morgenthau, a Mount Sinai pediatrician who recognized that adolescents needed the privacy and comfort of their own health care space, outside the intimidating façade of a hospital. With the humblest of beginnings—its first home was a trailer in a parking lot in East Harlem—the Center was the first program in New York, and one of the first in the United States, devoted to the special health care needs of teens.

We’ve grown since then to a staff of more than 100, and our approach has evolved to stay up to date with what it means to be a teenager in a changing world.

Our center is the largest of its kind in the United States. Our team of specialized professionals is devoted to the 12,000 young people, ages 10 to 22, who come to us for every kind of health and wellness care: Primary, sexual and reproductive, mental health, nutrition and fitness, even dental and optical. We provide all these services under one roof—and without regard to our patients’ ability to pay. No young person is ever turned away or billed. We treat all who come to us with compassion, respect and confidentiality.

Our model is now recognized nationally for breaking down economic and social barriers to health and wellness care for young people who need it most. Our team is widely respected for developing a unique model for delivering the highest quality, inter-disciplinary services, with proven results. As an integral part of the Mount Sinai Icahn School of Medicine, we train the next generation of adolescent specialists and offer highly sought-after post-residency fellowships. And we conduct pioneering clinical research in areas that are vital to the health and welfare of young people.

It’s all about our core belief that young people need to be physically and emotionally healthy to make it in this world, and that high-quality care is their right—and our responsibility.

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A Standard for Complete Adolescent Care

We deliver an expansive program of coordinated, inter-disciplinary services. It makes our center the largest of its kind in the United States, with an approach widely considered a model for the nation.

How We Help

CORE SERVICES

Fundamental care for all our patients includes free primary care, sexual and reproductive health, mental health, social services, health education and prescriptions. In our commitment to expanding our core services to meet all the needs of our patients, we recently added dental and optical care.

SPECIALIZED SERVICES

We complement our core components with specialized services for LGBTQ adolescents, teen parents, young people dealing with trauma and those struggling with obesity. And as an adjunct to the services we offer at the Center, our community outreach includes several school-based clinics.

HEALTH LITERACY

We’re dedicated to making sure our teens have accurate, thorough information about health issues and to helping them learn to make good decisions about every aspect of their lives. Our initiatives include a peer education project called SPEEK (Sinai Peers Encouraging Empowerment through Knowledge).

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Appreciating Adolescence

We’ve developed, over more than four decades, a unique team practice carefully designed to engage adolescents and provide them with the vital, specialized, comprehensive care they need. Here’s how we do it.

An Embracing Environment

Our model is built on the premise that adolescents need to know we’re unconditionally there for them. That means being inclusive, nonjudgmental, empathetic—and free. It doesn’t matter if our patients have insurance—70 percent of them don’t. We also make it easy for them to get an appointment quickly with a phone call or just come in when they can. And because every young person is unique, we don’t make anyone feel like a number. Each of our young patients feels welcomed and understood.

Intervention Through Dialogue

Adolescents want and need to talk about important health issues. But they often don’t because providers typically don’t ask young patients the right questions or make them feel safe talking about what’s going on in their lives. Building relationships is how we make it okay for our young people open up, even about things as sensitive as abuse at home or as complex as the growing problem of sexual victimization. Active questioning—and active listening—is how we both intercede in dangers they may face in their lives and help them build on their strengths.

Everything Under One Roof

High-quality adolescent care requires providing services that are complete and integrated. We don’t send teenagers to one building for primary care, another for testing, another for counseling. Having it all in one place gets them to come in, and keep coming back. That’s a key way we remove barriers to health care for adolescents and give them all they need on an ongoing, sustained basis.

Adapt and Innovate

We’ve built into our practice an alertness to the distinct and ever-changing health needs of adolescents. Our teens are not only our patients but also our partners in staying ahead of the curve and improving on what we do. We listen to them closely as we constantly assess, reflect, learn and innovate —whether it’s with a groundbreaking HPV vaccine initiative or our newest service providing optical care and free eyeglasses.

SEE WHY WE’RE A MODEL FOR THE NATION