Health Center juggles increase in traffic

Health Center juggles increase in traffic

The Student Health Center has seen an influx of students during this cold and flu season. The waiting room has been full of students seeking attention, everyday at all hours of the day, for anything from simple colds to broken limbs. In September alone, the SHC saw nearly 4,000 students.

While the center may be convenient for students, the wait times are causing many to complain.

Steve Galvez, certified registered nurse practitioner at the SHC, said wait times are shorter in the morning, ranging from 10-15 minutes, and greater around lunchtime, when waves of students come in at once.

“With our staff, during that time, we try to as much as we can to change our schedule around it and accommodate [the students],” Galvez said.

Samantha Jordan, a freshman majoring in criminal justice and psychology, said she was in and out of the SHC within an hour and a half, and that the wait time was not too long for her. Jordan said wait time generally depends on the services the student needs.

“[People may be complaining] because of what they have to wait for,” she said. “I know there was a time when a lot of kids were getting sick, so it was probably a lot of kids in here with hours of waiting.”

To compensate for the times, the facilities have opened a new wing that includes six additional examination rooms to fulfill different student needs. There are now 27 rooms.

Galvez said the SHC is aware of the possible student complaints and said building a larger staff and having more space is essential with the growing student body. The center will welcome a new practitioner at the beginning of November to assist with the student load.

Some students opt to not wait for a visit with the doctor because they do not want to wait for a long time.

“[If] I need to get something checked out, and there’s such a long wait, I’m not even going,” said Britton Rogers, a freshman majoring in biology. “That’s a big factor – that you can’t even go in because you don’t want to wait an hour and a half or two hours.”

There are other options in Tuscaloosa for students, such as DCH on University Boulevard, MedSouth and Urgent Care. However, these places do not charge fees to a student’s school account, and they are not on campus.

“A lot of people don’t have cars,” Rogers said. “It’s maybe cheaper, people may not have insurance with them and [the SHC] is maybe a more comfortable setting.”

“I’ve gone to MedSouth before, but it’s hard because their copayments aren’t billed to your student account. With my insurance, it’s around $300 just to walk in the ER [at DCH], and more than to get seen and get a prescription with treatment,” sophomore Robert Campbell said.

Students feel if the SHC could be more organized, it would help immensely with the wait times.

“They could probably sort out what you’re here for better and have more nurses that can help with general stuff,” Jordan said.

The SHC offers a fast pass opportunity where students can call ahead of time to let the office know when they want to come in. Many times, this takes the place of making a traditional appointment. With a fast pass, students can get treatment before walk-in patients.

Since the SHC opened, the University has seen a growth in the number of students on campus. Galvez said it is evident that this has affected the number of students coming into the SHC.

“We have a smaller student health center compared to other student health centers,” Galvez said. “We know that we’re going to have to expand more and more to accommodate the students and their needs.”

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