Letter to the Editor: Patience required for UHCS changes

While we at University Health and Counseling Services (UHCS) appreciate the concerns raised in a recent article (“Resignations still plaguing UHCS,” March 1), we want to assure the student body that our primary goal is to provide the highest quality health care to each and every student attending school at Northea-stern.

Delivering health care is a dynamic process. Changes in diagnostic procedures, new treatments and new ways to serve patients are the norm in any medical practice. It is impossible to remain static and provide state-of-the-art care each year.

Building on a solid foundation, the new team at UHCS is committed to finding ways to continually improve the care we give. We have expanded hours, opening every weekday at 8 a.m. and remaining open until 8 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday. (UHCS is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays; from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays; and closed on Sundays.) We have developed a new approach to scheduling so that all students are seen within a week of calling for any appointment for any reason. Students who need to be seen the same day for urgent issues (medical or psychological) are accommodated.

The centerpiece of our program is the ability to provide medical and behavioral health services to students in the same space. Regardless of the presenting problem, whether it be a medical complaint, like abdominal pain, or a psychological concern, like depression, the student can be served by the appropriate health care provider. The medical physician or nurse practitioner, having determined with the student that stress may be at the root of the headache or other problem, can call upon the suitable behavioral health specialist (psychologist, clinical social worker, psychiatrist, etc.) to see the student as soon as necessary. Since the former Counselor Center staff has moved into the Forsyth Building and joined with the former Lane Health Center staff, the two teams have worked very well together in precisely the way we hoped.

Change does not come easily. New systems require getting used to. Staff must be willing and ready to look at traditional processes and find better ways to work together. We must listen carefully to our patients’ concerns and respond to make our care even better than it has been in the past. It is predictable that with change comes turnover in the staff. New staff members bring new ideas and inject new ways of doing things. This helps a team continually improve. We are developing a new team and learning to work well together.

Before concluding, I would like to address one comment attributed to me in the article. The comment alluded to a decrease in patient demand in the health center. This is indeed not the case. We are seeing at least as many students per month as we did last year, and in some months more students. We have improved processes so that there is no waitlist for mental health appointments and so that medical appointments are made within a week of a student call.

We welcome input from students and respond quickly to concerns. In the spring, we will be doing a survey to obtain even more feedback.

– Roberta Berrien is the executive director of University Health and Counseling Services.

Leave a Reply