Don’t get sick after five

The Health Center’s hours of operation are not acceptable.

It is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. 

This is inconvenient for students.

The center is also closed on weekends and all state and national holidays.

People do not abstain from injury once the clock strikes 5 p.m. Illness does not take off a holiday when the rest of the country decides to, and it may even be inclined to join for the celebration.

The Health Center’s website states there are other options after the center’s closed, such as contacting University Police in times of emergency.

For non-emergencies, University Police have taxi vouchers for students to seek medical help from an urgent care nearby.

While urgent care accepts the school’s insurance, it also requires a copay – meaning the student will be charged extra to fulfill their health care needs.

Students interviewed were not aware of the after-hours options.

Freshman Zahriah Foster considers herself “lucky” to have “tripped and fell downstairs” and sprained her ankle on a Sunday because it meant she only had to wait one day to receive medical attention.

“The Health Center is free, so I feel like it should be available more often,” Foster said. “I don’t have the money to pay for an ambulance or the emergency room.”

The University health care policy for 2019-20 requires all full-time students to have insurance that meets all the University’s standards.

If a student’s insurance does not meet the standards, they are required to purchase what’s provided by the University at the price of $3,444.

That’s paying $3,444 to have a limit on when you can afford to be sick or injured.

In an interview, Ilene Hofrenning, director of Health Services, explained the hours start 30 minutes before 8:30 a.m. classes and last 30 minutes after 2:30 p.m. classes.

Yet, students are still struggling to decide between paying extra money to get the care they need or falling behind in school because they have to miss classes to go to the Health Center.

Hofrenning cited funding as the reason they cannot expand the Health Center’s hours because they would have to pay for two staff members during those extended time periods.

It is required that at least two staff members be present at all times while the center is open.

In an email, Dale Hamel said health services was allocated an additional $20,000 to its budget – which is a 6.6% increase from last year.

At the time of the interview, Hofrenning said she had just learned of the additional funds and was not sure yet how she would use them.

She explained while they received funding, they lost $8,000 due to declining student enrollment.

“Our budget is based on student fees, and the fee is $85 per student per year,” Hofrenning said. “We get a little extra money besides that, but that’s our budget.”

She added, “I was surprised when I saw this transfer in of $20,000. Because last year, [Hamel] took out $30,000.”

According to Hofrenning, the Health Service’s budget is approximately $300,000.

Due to funding, she said she believes the hours will not be extended in the near future.

But it is time for a change to the hours of operation for the Health Center. Students should not have to suffer with whatever illness or injury they have due to time inconveniences.

Student health should be a priority to the University. Investing time and funds into finding a way to make care more accessible to the students is a necessity.

In the meantime, students will just have to rely on cough drops and tissues from the Self-Care Station and hope that it’s stocked.

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