Health center extends hours to accommodate busy students

In an attempt to better serve the individual health needs of UAA students, the Student Health and Counseling Center has extended its current office hours until 6:45 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

Mary Anne Wilson, director of the Student Health and Counseling Center, said the goal of extending the center’s hours from 8:15 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. is to accommodate more students.

“There are a lot of students that work, and then take evening classes – and they’re certainly entitled to their health care,” Wilson said.

The Student Health and Counseling Center has attempted to extend its hours in the past, but reverted to its shortened hours because of difficulty in filling evening appointments. Wilson believes this was because of a lack of advertising, not a lack of need.

To get the word out, the Student Health Center has posted signs around the school and posted information in the Green and Gold Daily highlighting the extended hours.

With the extended hours, students will have increased access to the many services offered by the center.

Samantha Barnhill, a third-year political science major, said extended hours will give more students the opportunity to get appointments on campus.

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“I know it’s almost impossible to get an appointment there,” Barnhill said. “I call in and they’re like, ‘Oh, we’re booked solid for a week.’ Obviously a lot of students are using it.”

The Student Health and Counseling Center provides physical and mental health services to students enrolled in six or more credit hours who pay the student health fee. The services provided by the center are available free of charge, or at reduced rates for qualified students.

Students can receive free services ranging from general office visits to HIV screenings.

“There’s no charge for the office visit, and you can come in as many times as you need to through the semester,” Wilson said.

Some of the services provided by the center, such as lab tests, are offered at reduced rates.

A test known as a “chem. profile” that costs $35 or more elsewhere is available at the center for only $8. The center also has a contract that allows students to receive X-rays at a 15 percent discount.

The services provided by the Student Health Center go beyond typical doctor’s office services. The goal of the health center is to keep students healthy, not just to treat them when they are sick.

“Our whole goal is to try and keep students healthy so they stay in school,” Wilson said.

To that end, the center provides free Chapstick, first-aid kits, condoms, and cold-care kits. Last year alone, the center provided UAA students with nearly 10,000 condoms.

The cold care kit contains cold care items such as tissues, herbal tea, wet-wipes, chicken bouillon, a thermometer, and a flier containing tips on caring for oneself.

In addition to condoms, the Student Health Center provides prescriptions for birth control, emergency contraception _” the morning-after pill _” and STD treatment for students.

To help prevent students from suffering malnutrition when money is tight, the center also provides an emergency food supply.

“We have an emergency food cache that’s a three-day supply of food for students that for some reason can’t go out and buy some,” Wilson said.

The Student Health Center is also available to advise students traveling overseas on potential health issues.

“If students are going overseas, either for a program or a vacation, we talk to them about immunizations that they might need; about malaria, food and beverage precautions, travelers diarrhea, safety, first aid kits _” all that,” Wilson said.

For students who are in need of emotional help, the center provides sessions with nurse practitioners who specialize in mental health. Students can even borrow full-spectrum lighting units to help combat the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Federal confidentiality laws protect all information provided to the Student Health Center, so student privacy is protected.

Kristine Hilderbrand, a fourth-year management and marketing major, expressed concern that the center is not used by more students.

“I think that they’re one of the more under-utilized services on campus, which is frustrating because it is hard to get appointments there,” Hilderbrand said.