By JOE FRANCISCO
Limited health center hours may help students prepare for healthcare in the real world, health center administrators say.
A common complaint from students is that the Diana B. Torrey ’82 Health and Counseling Center is not open on the weekends, or after 4:30 p.m. Many students argue that this is when a health center is needed the most.
“Many students end up needing Plan B during the weekends. They end up going to the store and paying an overly expensive price,” a senior student said.
The health center also offers free condoms, among other health-related goods.
Patricia Ellis, director of health and counseling, said the health center was open during the weekend several years ago. “It wasn’t cost effective,” she said.
The health center offers limited acute care for injury and illness.
Many students still find the limited hours unrealistic. “They should be open on the weekend because it is difficult for students to find an appointment with the health center during the week because of our schedules,” one student said.
The Canton-Potsdam Hospital E.R. (in Potsdam), and the CPH After Hours Clinic (in Canton, at the E.J. Noble Building) are open for treatment of acute and non-acute illnesses, respectively. Still, students wish for a closer and more convenient option.
An infirmary provides 24-hour care, regardless of the severity of illness or injury. An emergency room only treats conditions requiring immediate attention. A clinic such as the one at the E.J. Noble Center is designed to handle non-emergency patients, much in the same way that a campus health care center offers health services.
With flu and flu-like symptoms on the rise, many students turn to the health center for advice. However, when the health center is not available, many students turn to SLU-EMS when faced with unfamiliar symptoms, explains Will Keever ’13, an EMT with SLU-EMS.
“[The hours are] an inconvenience for EMTs,” Keever said. “Instead of a student going to the health center for a minor sickness, EMTs are called.”
“Sickness does not have office hours,” he said.
At the height of the flu season, many are concerned about preventing the spread of influenza, as well as treating its symptoms. “We are open on weekends [during times of] fast-spreading illness,” Ellis said.
“Students will need to think for themselves,” Ellis said. When 24-hour infirmary care is not available and acute emergency care is only available at a distance, students must weigh the benefits of going to the ER with the potential drawbacks.
One potential drawback is insurance. “Every policy is different. You have to know your policy,” she said. Generally, insurance will not cover non-emergency trips to the ER. Insurance companies usually use Medicare guidelines to determine what emergencies are severe enough to be reimbursed.
“We aim to treat students like adults, including medical care. Students need to learn how to access services as a life skill. There will not always be infirmaries or 24-hour care available.” Ellis said.