Student Health

Don’t let a sniffles pandemic lay you low

By Michael Lipkin

The Student Care Center (SCC) is your typical clinic: They offer wellness and illness checkups, STD tests, flu shots, and other routine lab services. Located next to the University bookstore, the SCC also employs a sports medicine doctor, an OB/GYN, a massage therapist, and a nutritionist.

Of course, in order to take advantage of these services, students need to be able to make an appointment (by phone 773-702-4156). A 2009 study by Student Government found about half of the student body had trouble scheduling an appointment within a week of an accident or of contracting an acute illness. Of those, about one-fifth had their appointments changed or canceled out of the blue.

“Many feel that the trouble of getting an appointment outweighs the quality of care and thus would forgo health care from the SCC than actually go to the SCC,” the report said.

Student groups organized throughout the year to raise their concerns about the SCC.

“It was impossible to get OB/GYN appointments for four to six months,” said third-year anthropology graduate student Duff Morton, who was involved those efforts. “The broad impression was you had to fight just to get in the door.”

Soon after the report was released, the administration announced it would expand SCC hours past normal business hours, though they would still remain closed on weekends. They also added a doctor, a movement specialist, a nurse practitioner, and a licensed nurse to their staff this year in another effort to cut down on appointment wait times.

“Providing health services to students is one of our top priorities,” said Kimberly Goff-Crews, vice president for Campus Life.

For mental health concerns, students can turn to the Student Counseling and Resource Service (SCRS) on East 57th Street and South University Avenue. There, both couples and individuals can see a therapist or support group, or get an outside referral. The center serves as a short-term resource; students are referred to outside therapists if they require long-term treatment.

“I had a really bad attitude about it going in,” said one third-year student who suffered panic attacks after her mother died. “But they were good at understanding school pressures. They know we’re at the University of Chicago and what that means.”

The student, who declined to give her name due to the stigma sometimes associated with psychiatric care, said the SCRS’s services helped her control her problem.

“I only saw a person once a week for a quarter, so it wasn’t intensive, and the problems were a lot deeper than could be solved just with a few visits,” she said. “But it had positive results. I have the attacks much less frequently now.”

The SCRS is also undergoing changes this year, with some administrative reshuffling and a streamlined web site for appointments.

Appointments can be made by phone at (773) 702-9800. As with the SCC, expect to wait a few days. Students in crisis can reach on-call therapists by calling the SCRS during business hours, or (773) 702-3625 during non-business hours.