Friday, March 31, 2023

Unreliable phone lines, weekend closures and misinformation: Student Health Services looks to make changes

NewsCampus NewsUnreliable phone lines, weekend closures and misinformation: Student Health Services looks to make changes

Staff Reporter

The chilly mid-November weather in Newark has brought a new wave of what many students call the “frat flu,” exacerbated by the bite in the air and abounding seasonal allergies. 

Yet, Laurel Hall, the home of Student Health Services (SHS), is a ghost town on the weekends. SHS sits closed until Monday, leaving ill students to fend off a myriad of maladies armed only with prescriptions from urgent care clinics and over-the-counter cough medicine.

The closure of SHS on weekends has stirred up frustrations in the student body. The allegedly questionable hours, along with many other issues such as difficulties making appointments and misinformation regarding what SHS can actually treat, have led many students to voice these concerns, and SHS is looking to remedy the disconnect between its services and the students whose health it is meant to maintain.

Kelly Frick, interim medical director and director of SHS, tried to clear up some of the confusion surrounding SHS’s services and when and how they are available.

“After hours, we have nurses available with physician backup to provide phone consultation to students with medical questions or guidance, and they can help connect the student either with an appointment the next day or with after-hours care if medically necessary,” Frick said.

According to some students, these phone services are not reliable, even while SHS is open. 

“I called them a bunch of times and they didn’t pick up, so I decided to just walk there,”  freshman Lilly Smull, who went to SHS seeking treatment for a sprained ankle, said. “I got there and they were kinda like, ‘We can’t really see you right now, you have to make an appointment,’ and I said ‘I called, you didn’t pick up.’ They were like, ‘Okay, well, here’s the times available that you can come in,’ and it was like a day later.”

Audrey Tong/THE REVIEW

Freshman Lauren Eliseo, who has been to SHS multiple times since arriving on campus, expressed a similar frustration. 

“It was really hard to make an appointment,” Eliseo said. “They have a phone number, but every time I would call, the service was so bad. Like, they could not hear me. The first time I had to make an appointment I went with my [residence hall coordinator] using her landline, and then the next time I just didn’t even bother calling. Their phone service is so bad.” 

Frick also commented on the complaints about SHS not being open on the weekends.

“We’re always looking to improve services for students, and that is something that we are looking into,” Frick said. 

In the meantime, she directed students to call either SHS themselves or the SOS Helpline on the back of their UD ONECards. She also added that SHS is starting to migrate to online booking through the UD Health Portal, meaning that, in the future, students will most likely be able to schedule appointments online without having to worry about dropped calls or bad connections.

In the meantime, phone lines are students’ only option, regardless of their reliability. However, some students said that the phones are not the only unreliable aspect of SHS.

“They prescribed me these anti-inflammatory pills but didn’t really tell me much,” Smull said. “My mom sent me a boot to wear and that was kind of it.”

On the contrary, some students have had positive experiences with SHS.

“They were really helpful,” Eliseo said. “Even the time I went on my own without making an appointment, they got the emergency section of student health to take me, which was helpful. Like, they were actively trying.”

Despite the debate over just how effective SHS is, Frick argues that one of the main obstacles regarding student wellness is misinformation regarding SHS and the full extent of services offered there that are covered under the wellbeing fee.

“We offer primary care, so that’s everything from physicals to sick visits and injuries, sexual health services for individuals who identify as male, female, or non-binary, we offer STI testing, birth control, we have nutrition consultations here, we have a dispensary on site, a lab here, x-ray here, immunization services here,” Frick said. “All of that is available to our students. We see students here for anything and everything to help them with their healthcare.”




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