NEWS

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September 18, 2009

SCC reforms reduce wait times, but fall short of expectations

The Student Care Center (SCC) will hire three new staffers this year and dedicate both its doctors solely to SCC work, the most significant parts of student health care reform announced early this month.

The SCC will add a doctor and two nurses to its staff in an attempt to cut down on the sometimes week-long wait times to schedule appointments at the clinic. The doctor will join one other physician who will have no other responsibilities outside of SCC work.

“Student health care is one of our top priorities that we want to improve,” said Vice President of Campus Life Kimberly Goff-Crews, who oversaw the changes. “We used to have doctors who were not dedicated to work at the SCC. Now students will see the same doctors each time they come in.”

The new staff is expected to be hired by the end of the quarter.

Student groups have been pushing for more comprehensive health care since last December, when several activist groups held meetings calling out the University on four-to-six month wait times to see an OB/GYN.

In June, the Inter-House Council (IHC) released a report that said about half of students surveyed had trouble scheduling an appointment within a week of an accident or of contracting an acute illness. They also found that a third of students felt SCC staff had trivialized their symptoms.

While Goff-Crews’s reforms address the most pressing student complaint, appointment wait times, they do not implement improvements Goff-Crews herself advocated in February.

Last winter, Goff-Crews announced the results of a University study calling for creating an executive director by the end of this year to oversee both the SCC and the Student Counseling and Resource Service (SCRS), as well as a unified space for both services to share.

Goff-Crews said there were currently no plans to create that executive position.

The IHC report also advocated sensitivity training for SCC staff. Goff-Crews said the SCC director was working on improvements, but did not provide any specifics.

An e-mail to students early this month announced other changes as well. The SCC will continue its late hours Tuesday through Thursday, and will feature a massage therapist and lower co-pays for student insurance. Referral procedures will be streamlined and a Health and Wellness Director will be added to the SCRS.

Ginger Carr, already employed by the SCRS, will fill that role, which will focus on preventive care.

“Ginger will oversee health promotions programs, on-campus meditation, yoga, and exercise,” Goff-Crews said. “She will be the focal point for whatever happens on campus for wellness programs.”

Goff-Crews said no formal standards will be in place to judge the effectiveness for the reforms for at least a year. “I will have conversations with students about what they need to do next, and what objective metrics we need to have in place,” Goff-Crews said. “I don’t anticipate implementing them until next year.”

Nonetheless, Goff-Crews said further changes will take place.

“This is one phase in a series of phases,” she said.