Visit the Health Center

Illustration: Maria Salvador

Students aren’t maximizing the resources and services made available to them at the Student Health Center.

In fact, there have only been approximately 1,300 visits – counting follow-ups – to the facility so far in the semester, said Health Center Director Beth Benne.

During the fall 2010 semester, there were 2,085 visits to the center’s medical clinic, with 888 of them coming from unique patients, according to records.

That’s approximately four percent of the total population of students for that semester.

Four percent.

During the fall 2009 semester, on the other hand, 718 unique patients visited the medical clinic.

Although the numbers are getting better, they’re still bad.

That’s just shameful, considering exactly how beneficial the Health Center really is to students who use it.

Both students and staff members should be responsible for ensuring that facilities like the Health Center are utilized to its fullest extent.

Upon paying registration fees at Pierce College, students are required to also pay a mandatory $11 health fee.

Remember that?

Well, for those of you who don’t know this – and we’re sure there are a lot of you out there – that $11 entitles you to low-cost, sometimes even free, services at the Health Center.

It’s strange that students don’t even attempt to find out why they’re being asked to pay the health fee, considering the economic and financial issues that have affected us as a nation.

It may just be $11, but it’s still money (hopefully) well earned.

Some low-cost services students are entitled to are: STD testing, urine pregnancy tests, and TB skin testing – just to name a few.

Free services, on the other hand, include nutrition counseling, over-the-counter medication, physical exams, and psychological services.

These are especially helpful for students who don’t have health insurance.

For example, it costs a few hundred dollars to get tested for STDs in hospitals. If you get your lab work done at the Health Center, however, it will cost you less than $15.

While there are free clinics that offer testing free of charge, the lines can go on forever.

Another example is the blood chemistry panel, which is usually done as part of the annual physical examination. While a clinic typically charges $50 to $75, the Health Center only charges $8.

To get an hour-long initial consultation with a nutritionist, on the other hand, can cost someone who doesn’t have insurance up to $200. Follow-up visits, if required, can cost someone $100 or so.

Well, guess what?

At the Health Center, you get to see a nutritionist for free.

We don’t know about you, but we’d much rather see the nutritionist at the Health Center.

One of the reasons students don’t utilize the Health Center is lack of awareness. This is fault on both the students’ and the Health Center’s part.

Students should be responsible for finding these things out for themselves, especially since their money is involved. There really is no reason for students to not know about the Health Center.

On the other hand, the Health Center could do a better job of making itself known.

Some students don’t even know where the Health Center is!

For those of you who don’t, it’s located on the second floor of the Student Services Building.

We’ve already had “Meet Your Counselors” and “Meet Your Major.” Maybe the Health Center can organize an event similar to the two, where its staff would go out and set up informational booths in the Great Hall.

Faculty members could also help with promoting the facility by informing their classes of the services offered.

Increased promotion of the facility, as well as the services offered, should be able to increase student use.

The next time you need to acquire over-the-counter medication or get a physical exam done, you might want to consider just doing them at the Health Center.