Student Health Services Hour Extensions

The idea of extending Student Health Service hours was proposed at a student senate meeting held on Sept. 11.

Sen. Andre Smith introduced the idea because he said an acquaintance fainted during a weekend while they were in the Student Union.

Smith said a lot of students have had medical issues after 5 p.m. while school was in session and had to seek medical assistance at a hospital.

“I feel as though if the health center was open later, it would be a benefit to those who often get sick as well as those who just need check-ups and things like that,” Smith said.

Student Health Services are currently open Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m., but at 4:30 p.m. doors are closed and the staff finishes the care for those who had contacted the office prior to that time.

After a meeting with Director of Student Health Services Dr. Richard Ordway, the proposed hours included Monday to Friday until 7 p.m. and the addition of four hours on the weekend.

Ordway said the largest problem with extending Student Health Service hours is predicting the volume of students who will use the health center during the expanded hours and how much staffing would be necessary.

“Our plan would be to staff that time for new problems only, and have follow-up visits come earlier in the day,” Ordway said. “This would allow us to have less staff present at that time to keep the cost down.”

In addition to staffing concerns,
Ordway reminded Smith that an increase in hours would also result in an increase of the student health fee. According to an estimate by Ordway, if health center hours were increased between 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and held Saturday hours from 12 p.m. until 4 p.m., $45 would be added to the current $122.50 student health fee.

“Whether this is what the students want is to be determined by a survey which is currently being done by members of the Student Association,” Ordway said.

Smith and fellow Sen. Lauren Crawford decided to create a survey that is going to be sent to the student body next week. Smith advises students to look out for the survey and to take time to fill it out. Smith said on the survey there is also an option to keep the hours the way they are.

With flu season is approaching, Assistant Director of Student Health Services Lori Mitchell said the possible extension of Student Health Service hours is a good idea.

“Even though extending our hours is such a big step, it might actually be a positive thing because we could accommodate more kids throughout the day, especially during our busy season,” Mitchell said.

Ordway said these changes deal with student tuition and involve hiring additional staff but they probably would not happen until the 2013-14 school year.

While, other Student Health Services might not have a doctor on call 24/7, New Paltz does. Mitchell said SUNY New Paltz is one of very few SUNY schools to have a doctor on call at all times. At other schools, when their hours are over, they are over, Mitchell said.

For Ordway, the number one priority is providing quality medical care in a compassionate environment, which is a part of Student Health Service’s mission statement.

“The important thing as far as I’m concerned is that students, when they come in here, get good care,” Ordway said. “If students decide they want to get the hours extended, we want to make sure that continues. Not just that students see somebody, but seeing that they get treated properly.”