SHCS back to taking last-minute calls

By Benjamin Pokross

After the sudden departure in January of a physician left the Student Health and Counseling Services (SHCS) unable to take patients on immediate short notice, recent organizational changes aim to make the office’s response to student need timelier and friendlier.

SHCS has hired a locum tenens, or placeholder, physician to replace the one who left Student Health Services (SHS), so the service can once again keep appointments made within 24 hours, according to SHCS Director Alex Lickerman. The 24-hour guarantee was instituted at the beginning of the year, but was put on hold once the service became short-staffed.

The locum tenens physician will temporarily fulfill the duties of a permanent physician, who has been hired and is anticipated to start in two or three months, according to Lickerman.

Although Lickerman said in January that he had hoped to resolve the problem by the middle of winter quarter, the locum tenens physician only started work in the middle of eighth week.

“What slowed things down was the credentialing process,” Lickerman said, adding that the physician was granted an expedited hearing.

Lickerman also highlighted the hiring this quarter of two managerial staff members, which will give him a freer hand in shaping the policy governing the SHCS’s future.

Lori Ellerman, new operations manager, and Melva Hardy, new executive administrator, hope to make the most of SHS’s limited space—a complaint that has persisted since campus health services were reorganized last October. The SHS was created then out of the former Primary Care Services and put under the umbrella of the new SHCS.

“I do see that there’s some room for improvement, just being here six weeks,” Ellerman said, explaining that the immediate impact of the staff additions will be to cut wait times for students trying to reach the services by phone.

“I think that this will help with people getting a friendly response,” she said.