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Free and Low-Cost Youth Health Clinic Gets Makeover

 After nine months of renovations, The Door's Adolescent Health Center has been completely transformed.
The Door's Renovated Health Center
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SOHO — After 40 years of providing health care to New York City's youth, The Door's Adolescent Health Center has gotten a massive makeover.

The center, which has provided free and low-cost reproductive, primary and dental care to 8,000 teens and young adults every year for decades, has doubled its number of exam rooms from five to 10, including two dental exam rooms, through a recent renovation, officials said.

"Our dream was to have a new, state-of-the-art, renovated space that was more reflective of 21st century adolescent medicine, that was bright and inviting for our clients and still provided the confidential, culturally competent care that we are known for," said Adolescent Health Center Director Rhonda Braxton.

The renovations have also made it possible for The Door to bring on a dental hygienist and a nutritionist full-time instead of only part-time, as well as adding a new optometry facility and a pediatric dentist.

The funding for the renovations came from the New York Public Goods Pool, a state fund that pays for health care for low- and no-income New Yorkers. The Door can now continue to provide services free of charge to those who can't afford to pay, and charge others who can afford it based on a pay scale determined by their income, not their family's income, officials said.

The health center has come a long way since medical director Dr. Robert Johnson saw his first Door patients in a small lofted space in an East Village storefront after Johnson helped found the center in 1972.

Johnson is now the dean of the medical school at Rutgers University, but he still finds time to see patients at The Door two days a week, where he is known as "Dr. Bob" and where he regularly gives out his cell number to patients, some of whom still text him decades later.

"It's teamwork," Braxton said. "We're in this together."