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Who are they going to call?

A teen girl thinks she's pregnant. A boy wonders why he's so much shorter than all the other guys in his freshman class. A senior is so stressed out by college applications, he's got a non-stop headache.

If they can't or won't turn to their parents, the Teenage Health Resource Line is a free, anonymous phone call away.


Teens and parents can get answers to health-related questions at these phone lines operated by the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital and sponsored in part by Community Hospital.

Teen Health Line: (888) 711-teen (8336)
Parent Information and Referral Center: (800) 690-2282
Hours: 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m., Monday-Friday

The hotline is staffed by registered nurses from the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford University and supported in part by Community Hospital. It was started more than a decade ago at the recommendation of a community advisory board in Palo Alto that felt adolescents needed a safe, reliable source for health information.

The nurses field from 75 to 100 calls a month, with about 7 percent coming from the Monterey-Santa Cruz area. Sex-related questions - about pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and more - are the most common, accounting for just over a quarter of the calls.

"We talk to them about choices and being sure that they are not feeling pressured to become sexually active. And we never miss the opportunity to talk to them about safe sex," says Ruth Loveless, interim manager of the Pediatric Telecenter After-Hours Clinic and Referral Center.

"It's definitely the number-one topic, but there are also questions about health and what they can do to improve their health."

The nurses are trained in "telephone triage," Loveless says. They rely on their training and experience, as well as on protocols developed especially for pediatric call-in lines by a Colorado professor and pediatrician, and on assistance from Lucile Packard doctors.

"Teen callers have their own unique set of problems, so we try to have the teen physicians from our adolescent clinic come and talk to us at least twice a year," Loveless says.

"We try to answer the teens' questions, give them accurate information, help them get seen by a doctor if they need to be seen, or help them think through problems they might have," she says.

There is also a phone line for parents. Most calls are about infants, Loveless says, "but we do get some calls from parents not knowing how to deal with their teenager."

Their advice to those perplexed parents? A similar version of what they tell the teens, Loveless says, with suggestions about "how to get along and respect each other and listen to each other." by the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital and sponsored in part by Community Hospital.

Teen Health Line: (888) 711-teen (8336)

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