After 22 years of rejection, the Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees announced that the Student Health Center can raise its fees from $11 to $19 for the fall/spring semesters and from $8 to $16 for winter/summer intersessions.
The increase will help raise the quality of services available to Pierce College students. Student Health Center Director Beth Benne said the belated increase has prevented them from getting more psychological health for the students.
“The Board of Psychology says you have to work x number of hours for y number of patients, or clients that your interns are seeing, and if we max out, we can’t see any more. We can barely afford to pay [the supervising psychologist Niaz Khani] 20 hours a week,” Benne said.
The lack of money led to a deficit that pushed them to use the money that was set aside for medical supplies. Benne brought the health fee issues to the Board of Trustees every month to add to the agenda for discussion.
“I will give them a running tally of how many hospitalizations we had, the new clients we had and how long the wait for a student was,” Benne said.
The flow of new students seeking mental help has forced the health center to stop admitting new clients in November. It had to put older clients on the side to make room.
“That is not fair for the clients that already had a relationship with the psychologist,” Benne said. “It’s heartbreaking. It’s frustrating.”
The health fee increase will help the center attain much needed medical supplies, give adequate pay to its employees. And help with salary benefits. Benne said in time it would also allow for free services for students but she has to fix the center’s debt first.
“It could give them something free like Tuberculosis (TB) testing, the flu shot or vaccines,” Benne said. “I don’t know yet, I have to dig us out of this hole we are in right now with the money last year I ended with about $80,000 in deficit.”
Pierce College President Alexis Montevirgen said the increase would be focused on improving the availability of mental health counselors.
“That’s one of the things that we’ve noticed a dramatic increase in need,” Montevirgen said. “All of our students are going through so much more than just what they’re going through in the classroom.”
Associated Students Organization President Vivian Yee said she’s aware that the fee may be expensive. However the increase is a mandatory action, otherwise, the health center wouldn’t be around for much longer.
“I know myself and if the supermarket raised the price of broccoli I’d be like ‘no,’” said Yee.
Yee said she advocates for the increase due to her own personal experiences, which reminds her of the importance of being health aware.
“I was born with really severe rashes where you scratch yourself until you bleed and I know how much health care can get, so this health center is so important,” Yee said.