Not a quick fix: health services are plagued by problems

Entrance to the health services of the health and recreation center. Photo from the collegial archives.

CASSANDRA STEC | STAFF JOURNALIST | [email protected]

During my four years with Butler, I found myself having to go to Health Services for a lot of things, whether it was flu shots, an illness, or the need for a therapist. I have always been fortunate enough to find appointments when I needed them for any medical issues I faced, however the advice was a little trickier. Health Services is the only place on the Butler campus that students can and should go to for medical care and counseling. Whether from Rhonda Jackson’s departure or lack of staff, students have noticed pitfalls in the care they receive from Health Services in recent years.

Julia Denkmann, a finance student and major in Spanish, sought medical help from the health services for a concussion she suffered on September 18. He was told to seek medical help elsewhere after calling to ask for open appointments.

“I called them on Tuesday, I think, and they were like ‘we don’t have an appointment until next week and are going to emergency care’ and I was like ‘oh, alright'”, a Denkmann said. “I had a concussion; I didn’t know what I was doing so it was great. I [also] had to find a friend of mine to take me to emergency care.

Denkmann feels that health services are not accommodating or reliable enough for students to reliably visit them for medical help or advice.

“I know a lot of people who don’t go, because they think it’s hard to find appointments or just like the health services aren’t – I hate to say it but – well,” he said. Denkmann said. “For the most part, I would say I feel like we’re paying a lot to not do much, or at least not be very accommodating or available when they should be.”

In addition to the scarcity of appointments available at Health Services, students have difficulty securing appointments for Counseling and Consultation Services. Recently, to combat this, Butler purchased a subscription for each student in order to Free space – a mental health service that offers a variety of resources such as meditation – and has hired three new full time staff for CCS.

While Butler has taken the time to add new resources that will hopefully help students, especially in the CCS field, current health service issues have plagued the university for years.

Ella Murphy-Kalkbrenner, a double major in mechanical engineering and junior economics, first went to Health Services in her first year on campus to receive vaccines she had not yet received. The only available appointment was at 8:00 a.m., but she noticed that throughout her wait, both before and after her appointment, no other students entered the space.

Later in the semester in her freshman year, Murphy-Kalkbrenner suspected she had a concussion and sought advice from her parents. His father, a paramedic, told him Health Services should have concussion tests. She immediately called Health Services to inform them that she would be having a concussion test. Much like Denkmann, their response to his call was that there was no appointment and that urgent medical help had to be sought.

“I went there but emergency care doesn’t do concussion tests so I had to go to the emergency room and ended up with an emergency bill instead of just being able to go to the emergency room. health, ”said Murphy-Kalkbrenner. “My mother called them and yelled at them. Then they called me back and… their response was “oh we’re so sorry we can see you on Monday” and it was a Thursday. “

After his experience with health services in his first year, Murphy-Kalkbrenner, along with the majority of his friends, choose to seek treatment from primary care physicians or off-campus emergency care. Due to the difficulties encountered, Murphy-Kalkbrenner and his friends no longer use a service specially designed for students to have access to medical aid on campus.

However, the need to seek out-of-campus care complicates a seemingly straightforward process that should be available to students. This complication is all the more worrying as health care should be a human right and some students have not been able to adequately access this right when attempting to obtain medical assistance from Health Services.

While Butler’s heart might be in the right place, they still miss the mark and the students are in pain. Health Services, like many other departments based on student experience at Butler, are overworked and understaffed.

Hope Horsfall, a second-year health sciences student, did not use health services prior to any requirements related to COVID-19. She recently tried to make an appointment for a painful ear infection, but was told to seek treatment elsewhere, like Murphy-Kalkbrenner and Denkmann. She found herself frustrated by the experience as well as the lack of resources.

“I feel like for the number of people here there should be a lot more already, it’s just the bare minimum,” Horsfall said. “I don’t know, I wish they had more resources, or at least more options than just calling them, trying to schedule dates and being told you can’t get it. of dates before October, and it was like weeks ago. “

Concussions and ear infections aren’t the only injuries that have been denied by Health Services, especially not recently. Whether students have been turned down or find that there is no online appointment, there is an obvious breakdown in communications between students and health services, resulting in students not receiving the proper care they expect.

While many students with their own health insurance may seek help outside of university, international students and students who do not provide their own health insurance Assurance are forced to buy Butler’s insurance; some of whom have had difficulty in being seen or allowed to travel to other places to get the medical assistance they need.

Allison Welz, a major in biology and religion, has used Butler’s health insurance policy since her first year. She found that other insurance providers were expensive, hence the reason she purchased Butler’s policy; but throughout his time in college, Welz had issues with the way Butler informed students of his policies.

“When I was looking for external care providers, [counseling] was covered by insurance; but unless I had really read the policy, I would have been charged the full amount because I had not obtained prior authorization, ”Welz said. “I don’t think a lot of students know this and [they] think they can go to one of the outside providers, but if they don’t read the niceties, they won’t know they need prior approval from Butler Health Services. It really put the brakes on things, and it wasn’t a great cover, but it is.

Even though she obtained prior authorization, Welz still had to cancel her first counseling appointment with the outside provider because her authorization was not processed quickly enough and she could not pay the reimbursable fees.

As well as struggling to find the best process for using her Butler insurance, Welz knows things would have been worse if she hadn’t gone to Butler’s health department for advice when she was a first. year.

“Fortunately, I had been to health services before for counseling resources,” Welz said. “If I hadn’t, I would have to do an admission with them and then they would release me.” Knowing that they are already pretty well backed up, it would have taken me even longer to see a vendor.

One thing Welz wants Butler to do regarding their health insurance policy when she was a first year is to explain how the policy works and what the different terminologies mean. Certain terms, such as’prorated bonus‘ Where ‘qualifying life event, ‘could confuse students. As someone with no knowledge of insurance jargon, she couldn’t figure it out on her own and needed help from her parents.

“If you log into United Healthcare Resources, you can find your policy and everything, but [it can be confusing] unless you understand insurance or your parents are working with you on it, ”Welz said. “I didn’t know anything. It would have been really beneficial if someone explained to me in layman’s terms what I’m covered for, what I’m not covered for, how do I go about getting proper coverage and everything.

While the students have done their best to be sympathetic with the limited resources available to the health services, many are still very frustrated and upset by the situation they have been forced to find themselves in as they tried to ask for help. ugly.

Horsfall is one of the students affected by the health services situation, and she is upset by the lack of options and the inaccessibility.

“They wanted to get me on a date like they were doing their best,” Horsfall said. “I think they just have very, very limited resources that they work with, so they were limited in the time they could help me. It was just frustrating that there were no options on campus considering how much we pay to be here. We also have to find a trick [for off-campus resources] and that made health care very inaccessible. The most frustrating part is how much you are paying for the little you get in return.

While Butler is taking steps to help address staffing and appointment issues within the CCS, Health Services as a whole seems to be on their own and finding their way after the Jackson’s departure and the lack of staff for the space. In addition, the opening hours of health services – Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. – are not useful for students whose schedule does not allow them to see a doctor between, before or after class. Students who are required to purchase Butler’s health insurance should not have to incur additional charges for services they should already have access to on campus.

Health services need both better hours for students and more staff. Students should not attend a university where they pay close to $ 60,000 per year for not having constant access to health care on campus.

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About Evelyn C. Heim

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