Health services reduce walk-ins

Written By Sarah Gibson, Co-News Editor

The Student Health Center will be operating with new staff and new hours this semester.

In an email sent to Point Park students by Michael Gieseke, dean of student life, it was revealed that starting November 1, the Student Health Center will be open Monday through Friday from 8:45 a.m. to noon and from 3:00-4:15 p.m. by appointment only. Hours between 1:00 and 3:00 p.m. will be walk-in hours for students.

The changes were made by the new health services nurse Katie Leslie.

Leslie is new to Point Park, and started at the beginning of the semester. She was previously a middle school teacher, before going back to school to become a nurse. She has a professional background as a nurse in pediatrics and homeless outreach.

While the changes made to the office times haven’t changed, what has changed is that the Student Health Center now runs on a mostly appointment-based system. The purpose of this is to eliminate lines.

These changes aim to fix the problem of students flooding the health center and leaving untreated after waiting in line so long, according to health center staff.

Leslie described her experience working on the walk-in only system during the first few weeks of the semester.

“Being new, we were just kind of taking a look at how things flow […] and trying to make sure we were serving everybody the best way possible and we decided after the first couple of weeks that functioning solely on the walk-in model is very unpredictable,” Leslie said.

The staff at the Student Health Center decided to try to implement some sort of scheduling so people can choose times that work for them. Most walk-ins are not emergency situations, and the scheduling model is intended to help more students be seen more efficiently.

Colleen O’Neil, sophomore cinema production major, went to the nurse’s office last year after contracting strep throat, before the Student Health Center got its new staff members. She recalled being scared, confused and barely able to breathe.

“She really couldn’t do too much for me other than telling me that I should probably go to the doctor,” O’Neil said. “She gave me a few throat lozenges and told me that I should go to the doctor and that I probably had a throat infection that might have been something more serious.”

Delaney Baumis, senior broadcast reporting major, went to the nurse’s office earlier this semester and recounted her experience as fairly positive. The nurse made an appointment for Baumis with a doctor immediately, and even contacted Baumis afterwards.

“Even after my doctor’s appointment, she followed up,” Baumis said. “She called me on my cell phone and made sure that everything was okay and went smoothly with the doctor.”

The new scheduling model will potentially help monitor the flow of the health center while also giving an idea of what to expect, health staff said. The scheduling software offers a section where students must add a short description of their reason for visiting the Health Service Center. This gives the nurses a better idea of what to expect, and it also allows them to track data electronically. This could come in handy if the center needs more resources, or to see when the busiest hours are.

Baumis, while supporting the idea of having a new scheduling method, noted room for other possible improvements.

“I think it’s great that they’re doing by-appointment and walk-in hours, but I think there should be a lot more walk-in hours,” Baumis said, citing students’ busy schedules as a reason for perhaps not being able to make scheduling an appointment work.

O’Neil said she does not agree with the new scheduling system, because she feels that it does not provide enough room for students who may be facing a health emergency.

“I have not gone to the nurse this year, so I don’t know how the new nurses are, but those new hours don’t make me feel very comfortable because if the same thing would happen to me that happened to me last year, if it’s 8 a.m., I can’t go to the nurses office and have her tell me what’s going on,” O’Neil said.

Health services can provide consultation services with the university nurse, where, if deemed necessary, she can refer a student to a UPMC doctor downtown if their condition cannot be managed by the Student Health Center alone.

These appointments are provided at no extra cost to the student. The center can also provide consultation for STI testing, birth control and other specialty services, like where to find an orthopedic doctor or a neurologist. The center can provide students with small doses of over-the-counter medication for less serious illnesses. The center also provides flu shots to students for ten dollars.

Leslie added that she’s looking to make other shots available to students, including meningitis.

Gieseke elaborated that while there aren’t any additional changes in the works for Health Services at the present time, they will always be looking for ways to improve.

“I definitely anticipate us to continue to look at how its going, see what’s working, see what’s not, and that’s one of the exciting things about new staff is there’s an opportunity to make changes,” Gieseke said.

Students an make appointments by following the Health services link on PointWeb.