Yale College Council members and University Health Services administrators have begun to analyze ways of improving health care at Yale, after discussing the preliminary findings of last semester’s YCC survey.
The 732 survey responses, which showed mixed feelings toward healthcare at Yale, were compiled and organized by YCC-YUHS task force members David Edelman ’07, Irving Ye ’07 and Govind Rangrass ’08. The YCC members presented the results last week to a committee of UHS administrators including Director of Health Services Dr. Paul Genecin and Chief of Psychiatry Dr. Lorraine Siggins. Although no immediate changes to UHS policies or practices have been made, members of both parties said they were optimistic that the survey results will lead to improvements in UHS’s relationship with University students.
Genecin said the YCC and UHS have agreed to further analyze the data before any changes are made in response to the survey.
“All we’ve done so far is talk about the preliminary results of the survey,” he said. “We agreed that we would tally up the numbers in more detail and come up with a to-do list afterwards.”
Ye said the most common complaints expressed in the free-response section of the survey involved dissatisfaction with the quality of care at UHS, suspicion of misdiagnosis and frustration with wait times in the Urgent Care Department. Ye said many students also wrote that UHS is not active in reaching out to students, and the students expressed a desire to be better informed about the resources available to them.
But Genecin said students are often passive about exploring their health-care options, even when information is available.
“There are a lot of ways in which we try to communicate with students, but a lot of people don’t take in this information unless they need to,” Genecin said. “When I get a letter at home that looks like a mass mailing I throw it away. People don’t read mass mailings — not from their masters, not from their deans and not from Health Services.”
Rangrass said the YCC plans to continue working with UHS throughout the semester to improve communication between Health Services and the student body. He said results from a national health survey of U.S. universities are expected to come out this spring, which will give both the YCC and UHS a better idea of how Yale’s health services measure up to those at other schools.
“If Yale is a leader in academics and financial aid, we should also be a leader in the quality of health care we provide our students,” Rangrass said.
Rangrass said publicizing the Yale Online Health Services Web site could help remedy problems with communication and keep students informed about their options at UHS. YOHS also allows students to schedule and cancel medical appointments online, as well as receive test results electronically.
“I proposed that registration with YUHS become mandatory,” Rangrass said. “Perhaps a form could be sent out with all of the other summer mailings that incoming students receive.”
Both YCC members and UHS administrators said it is a top priority to improve communication across all categories of health care.
Genecin said he thinks it is important that women on campus know that UHS makes free emergency contraception available to all students and that it is possible to obtain prescriptions for the “morning-after” pill in advance.
But Edelman said he thinks UHS does not do enough to publicize the availability of emergency contraception. In addition, the process for obtaining the morning-after pill in advance is often lengthy and stressful, he said.
“It may not sound very complicated, but analyzing the specific organization of [UHS], we’ve found that obtaining emergency contraception in advance can be much more problematic than it seems,” he said.
The problem of effective distribution of emergency contraception was one of several issues raised by the survey results that YCC and UHS members said they hope to remedy in the coming months by improving student outreach and communication.
“Since Friday was our first meeting, it was too early to demand that changes be made in accordance with any concrete time tables,” Edelman said. “But not only does YUHS seem willing to make certain changes, the YCC, armed with all this data, is going to be unrelenting in making sure these changes are made.”