Health care hero for at-risk young people


Seth Ammerman, MD, medical director of Mobile Adolescent Health Services at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, has received a prestigious public service award for his role in providing free, comprehensive health-care services to uninsured and homeless youth through the hospital’s Teen Health Van.

The Bay Area Jefferson Award is given to outstanding individuals for their public service achievements in local communities.

“Seth Ammerman is a hero in the community,” said Steve Westly, who nominated Ammerman for the award. Westly is the managing partner of the The Westly Group and board member of the Westly Foundation. “He is an outstanding doctor who has chosen to serve the people in our community who otherwise have virtually no access to health care.”

“Receiving the Jefferson Award is a real honor,” said Ammerman, clinical professor of pediatrics at the Stanford School of Medicine. “What’s most exciting about the recognition is that it highlights the Teen Health Van. We need more of these kinds of programs because the need is so great.”

Ammerman and his health care team — made up of a nurse practitioner, a registered dietitian and a social worker — travel among seven different schools and community centers from San Francisco to San Jose on a regularly scheduled basis. The mobile program treats youth ages 10 to 25 who have a range of unmet health-care needs, including basic medical care, reproductive issues, skin problems, anxiety and depression and nutrition problems. The team also offers HIV testing and counseling, substance abuse counseling and treatment.

The program, founded by Ammerman in 1996, and other community agencies that serve the at-risk population are making a difference. According to Ammerman, two-thirds of the homeless kids they see are able to get off the streets and into housing, and 70 percent of the kids return to the van for follow-up visits. “That’s because they often have multiple unmet health-care needs,” said Ammerman, “and we can’t meet all these needs in just one or two visits.”

“Many of the students seen on the Teen Van have lived lives filled with challenges and heartbreak, where trust isn’t easily earned, but Dr. Ammerman’s friendly and kind demeanor makes students feel at ease and he immediately engages them,” said Perla Pasallo, assistant principal at Los Altos High School, one of the program’s partner sites. “I can attest to the significance of Dr. Ammerman’s work and how meaningful it has been for our students.”


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