Free health care in Houston leads to free education plus a job

A group of clinics in Houston not only offers free treatment for teenagers and young adults, but also sends them to school for free and then offers them a professional job!

It's a program through Baylor College of Medicine, and we caught up with a young lady who says it truly changed her life.

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Jade Harvey had to put many of her life's plans on hold during the COVID pandemic to prioritize the health and safety of herself and family. She wasn't sure where life was leading her, until she remembered an opportunity through her health clinic.

"I was in high school, and they would refer most of the kids to go there for sports physicals, and that's how I became a patient," explains Jade.

Jade says it became much more than health care for her. She calls it a turning point in her life, when she met the director of a special program at Baylor Teen Health Clinic. Reginald Hatter encouraged her to consider a profession in the medical field.

"Education is a big thing! One thing we notice is that individuals who are young make better decisions when they're better educated, and that's one of the programs I run is ‘Ascend’. We provide free of charge education to get them into the health care field and provide tuition stipends to send them back to a local junior college and get them employed as an EKG technician, phlebotomist, certified nurse aid, telemetrist, and medical business office professionals," states Reginald.

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Reginald says he has witnessed the Ascend program living up to its name, elevating the quality of life for many.

"Maybe if they're struggling with some things, they can come to our program, get educated, get employed, and possibly work with us at Baylor College of Medicine," encourages Reginald.

Jade says it was absolutely a life-changer for her!

"It means a lot because honestly, if it wasn't for Baylor and the Ascent program, I wouldn't be here right now, and it changed the person I am today. I'm going to be completely honest - I don't think I would be as driven, as mature as I am right now, if it wasn't for this job. It has taught me patience, it has taught me how to talk to people, it has taught me a lot, and I am grateful," says Jade.

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Similar comments have been voiced by many others who benefit from the program, as well.

"They've graduated from high school, but they're underemployed, and I'm a big person - I believe all jobs matter, but for some individuals maybe working at a local fast-food place, and it provides some funding but not benefits, or if they have a child. We're trying to give them the opportunity and necessary employment so they can take care of themselves and others. They may have children or family they're responsible for," says Reginald.

They're now able to take better care of themselves and family, through this unique opportunity. Jade believes it has all come full circle for her.

"I like helping the patients because I was once in their shoes and this is an opportunity to help them," says Jade.

There are eight Baylor Teen Health Clinics throughout Harris County, focusing on 18-24 year olds who are not in college.  

For more information click here.