Officials at University Health Services said they have made significant changes based on student feedback from last spring.
Student Medicine now is open later, mental hygiene assigns therapists more quickly after an initial consultation and UHS coordinators are bringing student health education into the residential colleges.
Chief of Student Medicine James Perlotto said student medicine extended its hours and also is open during lunch.
“[We were] hoping that would be better for students with part-time jobs, labs that fill the afternoon, sports and intramurals,” Perlotto said.
Perlotto said 99 percent of students surveyed favored the new hours.
One student request has not led to changes, however. Yale College Council representatives complained last year about the number of nurse practitioners employed at UHS, but UHS Director Paul Genecin said the nurse practitioners are qualified.
“Nurse practitioners have a very deep level of both clinical expertise and experience,” Genecin said. “The vast and overwhelming majority of students are satisfied with whomever they see.”
Genecin said not every student has the same preferences and encouraged students to exercise their right to request a different type of clinician. For example, one can request a woman instead of a man or a doctor instead of a nurse practitioner.
“You may not feel very assertive [when you are sick] but we invite you to do that,” Genecin said. “We deliberately seek diversity, young, old — we want you to decide.”
UHS is also launching new programs in the residential colleges. Genecin sent letters to the masters and deans of each residential college this fall, inviting them to participate in outreach programs.
Last year, UHS began its cold care clinic program, which targeted students who were already ill, Health Education Coordinator Sally Rinaldi said. If residential college officials make a request, UHS has the ability to bring programs into the residential colleges to teach students how to avoid and treat sickness.
The first outreach program is occurring Nov. 27 in Silliman College.
“We’ll answer questions about colds and flu,” Perlotto said. “Obviously people have lots of questions about more serious illnesses such as anthrax, smallpox. We have lots of information — we would love to do this in every college.”
Though none of the residential colleges have requested a UHS program that discourages smoking, Director of Mental Health Lorraine Siggins said she predicts many colleges will participate in stress reduction workshops around finals period.
“We want to make sure that we are being responsive and proactive in also educating the community about some of these risks, and we find that working through the colleges is one of the best ways to do that, so we’ll be sort of looking for more opportunities to do that,” Siggins said.
Siggins said the mental hygiene wing of UHS also has made improvements.
Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the number of mental hygiene patients has increased, but Siggins said UHS has been able to fill the need so far.
“Around the tragedy we had health services open for people to come in without appointments during the early evening and also arranged if anyone wanted to come to meet as part of a group to discuss some of the issues around there,” Siggins said. “I would say that one of [our priorities] is to be able to be positioned to respond to the things that come up on campus more quickly and flexibly.”
Though students last year complained that the time between initial consultation and the assignment of a clinician was unnecessarily long, Siggins said the turn around time has shortened this year. But she said mental hygiene tends to get busier after Thanksgiving because of holiday and exam stress.
Tiffany Alora Thomas ’05, who recently sustained an injury, said her experience with UHS has been mostly positive, though it took a while to get a follow-up appointment after her initial visit to the emergency room.
“Actually my whole suite has had to go see [UHS] and everyone else has been pleased,” Thomas said. “They can give you a quick fix, but in order to get something more prolonged, you have to wait a little while.”