September 23, 2013

O-Issue 2013: Student health

Nearly two years ago, all health-related services were consolidated and reorganized, creating an entirely new set of acronyms and the potential for confusion. But this need not be the case if you read on.

Well-being programs of any kind fall under the umbrella of Student Health and Counseling Services (SHCS). SHCS is divided into three branches: the Student Health Service (SHS), the Student Counseling Service (SCS), and Health Promotion and Wellness.

The Student Health Service, located in the dungeon-like Suite R-100 of the hospital’s Wyler Pavilion, is your appointment-only go-to for the basic preventative care and treatment covered by your Student Life Fee. In addition to visits with physicians, nurses, and other health professionals, SHS provides STD testing, Pap tests, flu and allergy shots, safer-sex products, and some lab tests and physical therapy services. Nutrition, sports medicine, and travel health consultations are also available. If you have a bad cold or mysterious rash, give them a ring at (773) 702-4156, or (773) 702-1915 for after-hours advice. Once you enter the maze of the hospital, signs will point you to the right place.

For more specialized care, you may have to look elsewhere and be prepared to use your University Student Health Insurance Plan (U-SHIP) or private insurance to cover it. And if you are hemorrhaging blood or going into convulsions, the emergency room is conveniently located at 901 East 58th Street—about a block west of the bookstore.

The Student Counseling Service, housed across from the main quad at 5737 South University Avenue, is the place to go for mental health care, and will be under the supervision of new director Dr. David Albert, starting September 16. After an initial intake appointment to discuss their needs, students may be referred to short-term individual or couples therapy, substance abuse treatment, medication management, academic assistance, or support groups, all covered by your Student Life Fee. If longer-term care is needed, they can recommend outside clinicians. SCS also sponsors “Let’s Talk,” informal and confidential counseling sessions offered several times a week and open to all. SCS can be reached at (773) 702-9800. For after-hours help, call (773) 702-3625.

Health Promotion and Wellness exists to integrate body and spirit into the life of the mind. Their staff and Peer Health Educators (you can apply to be one spring quarter) distribute information on a variety of topics related to well-being, from anxiety management to better posture. If your house elects a wellness czar, you might get to witness a presentation by this group about maintaining mental, physical, and sexual health at UChicago. The Stressbusters team will be returning from their inaugural year as well to continue giving free back rubs around campus. If you’re just looking for a little peace and quiet, try the seemingly endless number of meditation workshops, if only to experience what total silence feels like in Rockefeller Chapel. If you don’t seek out wellness activities, they’ll find you—during the Wellness Fairs on the quad, with make-your-own trail mix, massages, and puppies.

Despite the abundance of healthcare programs at their disposal, students are constantly pointing out aspects of SCHS that need improvement. Long wait times, scheduling difficulties, and misdiagnoses have inspired numerous submissions to the student-run Tumblr page “Student Health Horror Stories,” a self-described “repository for all of your terrifying tales of abysmal service with UChicago Student Health and Counseling.”

The University is not ignorant of these problems. Recently, they have hired an additional doctor to man the SHS stations and guarantee appointments within 24 hours, and the University’s numerous professional resources are your best bet for a wide range of health issues. If you need assistance, don’t hesitate to give them a call at the first sign of trouble.