Letter to the Editor: Students suffering because of health center change

I am encouraged that the NU commmunity has started to take seriously the blunder that has occured in the “restructuring” of the UHCS. Ironically, the “architect of the merger,” Dr. Philomena Mantella, sits on the committee evaluating her own mistakes. As a UHCS resignee, I have continued to recieve calls and requests from disillusioned NU students asking for a home to recieve care, a request that UHCS has failed to accomodate. Under the (mis)-guidance of Mantella and UHCS Executive Director Roberta Berrien, NU has denigrated a quality-oriented and primary-care focused health center into a department that represents the worst of college health, a dumping ground for practioners who have left meaningful medical practice in other locations. I encourage the NU faculty and students to expose the true blunder that Mantella and Berrien have created.

I can’t help but respond, additionally, to the inaccurate comments put forth by Dr. Berrien to a recent article (“Committee to examine UHCS resignations,” March 15). The changes in care delivery, touted by Dr. Berrien, had already been implemented prior to her arrival on campus. One hundred percent of students with immediate problems had been accommodated at the Health Center prior to Dr. Berrien’s arrival through our system for walk-in evaluation and treatment. Additionally, we had insured that the immediate requests for care were provided within current preventive care guidelines.

Most importantly, the Health Center had sought vehemently to ensure that regular screening for common disease was accomplished. For example, cervical cancer screening was conducted in women requesting refills for birth control pills. Cervical dysphasia affects the lives of thousands of college age women.

It is not clear that the current administration’s policies on women’s health care, termed “access to care,” attempts to ensure screening for this dangerous disease.

I assert the increased accessibility to mental health services is an issue that the Health Services had advocated for years before the proposed merger. In 2001, after the departure of Dr. Alex Beckett, the health center, under the leadership of Dr. Art Nahill, had asked NU administration for additional mental health resources to be funded … no meaningful response from the university.

The truth should be clear. Dr. Berrien, in the shadow of Dr. Mantella, has created a misguided and dysfunctional system for the delivery of care to NU students. Hostile to employees, this system has been marked by 24 resignations and no clear improvement in the quality of patient care provided to NU students. Not to mention the fact that the Health Center had been open until 8 p.m. Monday to Friday prior to Berrien’s arrival.

Please do not be misled by the erroneous comments of Dr. Mantella and Dr. Berrien. The NU students have, in the end, lost out in the disastrous “re-structuring” efforts of these unqualified “leaders.”

– Dr. David McBride is an assistant professor in the Bouv

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