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It Takes a Village to Raise a Child

How South Main Clinic Prepares Teen Mothers for Life

Hayli Acosta was no stranger to stares; it came with the territory. At 15 years old and pregnant, there were only a few places Hayli was spared from those looks: at home and during her visits with the Teen Mother & Child program at South Main Clinic.

Here, she wasn’t the “teen mom” but a hopeful young girl whose life was just beginning. While a team of midwives, nurses, and doctors provided care for Hayli and her growing baby, other staff members taught her about relationship safety, preventative health, and the importance of growing as a person.

Hayli Acosta U Block

Along with health care, South Main offers services for teen moms that others may take for granted: blankets, thermometers, hygiene products, basic over-the-counter medications, and access to community partners that help supply food, housing, and transportation.

Partners such as Holy Cross Ministries, a faith-based nonprofit, also provide social services to high-need families. Through embedded community workers, Holy Cross offers Spanish-language courses on health and navigating medical care. Margarite Allen, health outreach program manager, calls the community health workers “key” to building relationships with under-resourced populations. “If you can build that trust, you know when they experience hardship, they’ll reach out. Build trust and the rest comes naturally.”

These resources can make a world of difference for teen moms like Hayli. “I wanted to be a successful parent,” she says. “But I didn’t know how. I was a child myself.” Expectant teen moms at South Main are empowered to defy the odds. “From the minute you walk in, you’re given respect,” Hayli says. “They taught me that I wasn’t just a number, a mistake. I deserved a fighting chance.”

After giving birth in 2006, South Main stood witness to Hayli’s growth: from life as a teen mom to the loss of her young sister to cancer to her high school graduation. Here she discovered her mission: to become a nurse at the very clinic where she was once a patient.

Hayli soon earned her nursing degree through AmeriTech College of Healthcare before working at U of U Health as a medical assistant and labor & delivery nurse. Seven long years later, a job opened up. “I knew it was meant to be,” she says. “I wanted the opportunity to make this same positive impact on others.”

Doctors Office Wheelchair

For the last two and a half years, Hayli has worked as a clinical nurse at South Main. Her teenage years make her uniquely qualified for the job. She understands that the struggles of a teen mother extend far beyond an adjustment to parenthood—access to resources, a commitment to personal goals, the endless public stares. In the US, only 40% of teen mothers finish high school, and less than 2% go on to earn a college degree by age 30.

Now, Hayli is ready to take the next step. This past January, she accepted a new position as clinical nursing supervisor at Stansbury Health Center. “It was really tough for me to leave,” she says. “But it was time for a new challenge and a new opportunity to provide for my family.”

South Main was foundational to Hayli’s journey from teen mother to skilled nurse. And while her new position involves some changes, Hayli believes all patients just want to be seen. “I have been able to share my story... and better support patients who are struggling,” she says. “It feels really good to give love and respect to those who so need it.”

Pediatric Doctor Check-Up Little Girl