It’s cold and flu season, and it seems like the whole campus is starting to come down with the seasonal sniffles.
Despite the good Student Health Service does, there’s a stigma that surrounds heading to GW’s health center because it is believed to be inadequate.
The University should respond to the wealth of student complaints about Student Health by increasing staffing at these seasons of greater cold and flu incidents.
Many students’ first issue with Student Health is that it’s just too far. While I agree that getting stuck walking in the rain through Foggy Bottom is not the picture of a leisurely stroll, Student Health is closer than we think.
Of course the University can’t move its health center, but it makes all the other failings of Student Health seem that much worse.
Students who make the trek soon find themselves getting comfortable in the waiting room, and it’s no wonder why. About 800 students visit Student Health every week and for those 800 students, there are only five full-time doctors, a psychiatrist, six nurse practitioners or physician’s assistants and two registered nurses.
Even if everyone is working, there is bound to be a wait simply because, during periods like this one, when so many students are falling ill, there is not enough staff to adequately address the influx of patients.
Which causes another issue: as there are hundreds of students filing through Student Health’s doors daily, doctors are spread thin. Too often, this leads to inconsistent diagnoses.
I have gone to Student Health twice for the same problem, seen two different professionals, and been given two different opinions. This is a problem in itself, but the bigger issue was that one doctor’s diagnosis required urgent response and the other made my illness seem insignificant.
After you go to Student Health and maybe only receive adequate and timely treatment, you have to pay. Student Health refuses to take anything other than the University’s Aetna Health Insurance. The University should allow more health insurance providers under Student Health. A $25 co-pay adds up, and it’s entirely unrealistic for the University to expect students to purchase their own insurance when several students are covered under local insurance providers with their families.
Being understaffed and over-stretched is a major problem. Given that the University cannot seem to “afford” more staff members to something so highly used, it should at least give options that fit students’ needs.
Alyssa Rosenthal is a sophomore majoring in political communication.
This article appeared in the October 20, 2011 issue of the Hatchet.