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DAWSON: There is still untapped potential in Student Health programs – The Cavalier Daily

The seven-year project for the Student Health and Wellness Building was introduced in October and is much larger than its predecessor, the Elson Student Health Center. The new Student Health and Wellness Building has an area of ​​165,000 square feet. In contrast, as noted in an email from the Student Access Center for Special Needs, Elson’s previous facilities were only 35,500 square feet—a 370 percent increase in space for student health and wellness programs. Now is the time to take advantage of this newly developed area to improve the programs within its walls.

Major programs offered by the Student Health and Wellbeing Building for Students include – but are not limited to – the Access Center for Students with Special Needs, Counseling and Psychological Services and the Office of Health Promotion. Each of these programs has the potential to provide better services.

I am a student using the new SDAC facilities to take exams due to a medical disability. I must point out that the new building has totally impressed me so far. My biggest tragedy with Elson was the lack of personal space. However, these new test rooms contain separate offices in quiet, confined spaces. SDAC stocks a wheeled cart with convenient testing amenities including sharpened pencils, blank scratch paper, and mesh earplugs. In my experience, the staff were personable and helpful. My only recommendation for the future is to extend the opening hours. SDAC’s current hours on a normal weekday are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and I would argue an expansion of staff presence from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. would cover a broader range of time that would include most – if not all – periods of testing, either Early morning or late afternoon. While I don’t speak for all who use SDAC services, I think the software is headed in the right direction.

On the contrary, CAPS needs to work. The prevalence of CAPS staff duties is clearly more variable than in the other three divisions. CAPS is a multifaceted program that includes Individual and Group Therapy, Psychiatric Services, TimelyCare, Care Management and their Silvercloud program. My recommendation to CAPS – as a comprehensive service – is to cover its primary duty to students first. This means prioritizing and managing physical space to schedule adequate and on-demand health consultations for students.

Fellow sophomore engineering student Mohamed Ghadelrab highlighted this concern in a Discord chat. When invited to speak about his experience at CAPS, he said, “I tried to register for a mid-term diagnostic test in the spring, but they kept giving me other avenues of advice that wasn’t what I wanted. In the end, they admitted that all the screenings were taken.” After absorbing this storytelling, I felt doubly anxious. I asked, “So, do you think CAPS is understaffed or are they simply lacking the physical resources to meet the growing demand for care?” “Maybe it’s a bit of both,” he said.

Let me be very clear, if the CAPS is filled by incremental time slots, they should be upfront and tell the students about it. There should be no roundabout way. If this block issue is about physical space, extend the operating hours to take advantage of the space for a longer period to meet student demand. Having hours that end at 5pm on a weekday when some classes run all day until 8pm is frankly inappropriate. Make it similar to my SDAC’s recommendation for opening hours to be 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. The university should have CAPS staff running screening and counseling meetings during this long transition period, when class disputes and full time slots will hopefully be issues of the past. If existing employees are not willing to work long hours, hire new qualified workers for that period.

Some might suggest, why not use the university’s 24/7 Telehealth program TimelyCare to solve the time period problem? While TimelyCare is labeled as “7×7 virtual care from anywhere,” the university’s partnership with TimelyCare comes with a price tag. The student body receives 12 free telehealth visits with TimelyCare service from the university. After the allowance is exceeded, the student will need to provide their own insurance to pay their telehealth bill. College accommodation with TimelyCare is evaporating quickly. 12 telehealth appointments divided into 8 semesters is not enough. If CAPS wants to make up for the lack of in-person mental health appointments, it must commit to paying for telehealth services for its students. Or, of course, the university may set opening hours to satisfy a student’s request for appointments, either or.

Finally, I’m talking about the lesser known Office of Health Promotion. Similar to CAPS, the Office of Health Promotion is a very broad scope. The office includes, but is not limited to, health consultation visits, nutrition services, patient education, Wahoowell, and a group recovery program. Everything in the office is relatively satisfactory except for the benefit of the new test kitchen. According to the officials, “The cooking program will evolve over time. Currently, the center offers basic culinary skills, such as how to prepare meals with five ingredients or less.” I believe the goal of the Office of Health Promotion Dietitians could be to lead one potential credit class with guidance from the university on food basics. I have a strict diet And, like many, I believe that a cooking class where we take the initiative to learn cooking would be a desirable university project to undertake.

The university’s commitment to 129,500 square feet of student health and wellness programs is progress. However, even if this new facility is to be considered “sophisticated”, it means nothing if we do not improve the software within its walls. SDAC, CAPS, and OHP should make an effort to meet student staffing needs, opening hours are expanded and health-related educational classes are regularly promoted to participate in.

Rylan Dawson is an opinion writer for The Cavalier Daily. He can be contacted via the following email: members@cavalierdaily.com.

The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Cavalier Daily. The columns represent the authors’ opinions alone.

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