Student Health Clinic to offer new focus beginning this fall

When classes resume after summer break, students, faculty and staff will discover that the University Health Service (UHS) is taking a new approach. The three-phase reorganization, to begin in August, will include the closing of the inpatient unit and the after-hours clinic; the expansion of health education and wellness programs; and the relocation of the faculty/staff clinic.

Emory has one of the last University in-patient clinics in the Southeast, according to UHS Administrative Director Janice LaToza. "Georgia Tech closed its unit in 1991 and replaced it with a wellness center. The University of Georgia closed its unit in 1988. Neither Duke nor Vanderbilt has in-patient care," she said. Currently, Student Health Services operates 24 hours per day, which requires at least a nurse and a nursing assistant to be on-site at all times. Last year, according to UHS Medical Director JoAnne Williams, only 140 students were hospitalized overnight in the inpatient unit. The after-hours clinic saw an average of four students per night, between 5 p.m. and 8 a.m. During the regular clinic hours, the Health Service averages approximately 70 students per day, but frequently sees as many as 100 students per day.

"We want to increase the daytime utilization and be able to serve more of the students in other ways," said Williams. "It makes more sense to develop programs to benefit the entire student body, rather than lock our resources into maintaining a clinic which is only serving an average of four patients per night, as long as adequate and appropriate options are provided for students. We understand that the change will require some re-education and adjustments, because we have been used to the other system for so long." A transition advisory group, composed of Campus Life administrators, health care providers and students has been identified to offer guidance during the reorganization.

The regular clinic hours for the Student Health Service will expand to 8 a.m.-6 p.m., Monday- Friday; and 10 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturdays. Students requiring urgent care outside of these times will be referred either to one of two local urgent care facilities, or to the Emory Hospital Treatment Room, depending on the nature of the illness. The Student Health Service is finalizing plans for after-hours telephone consultation and for transportation to the facilities.

The reorganization was prompted in part by the upcoming incorporation of the faculty/staff clinic into the new Emory Satellite Clinic, to be located in the 1525 Clifton Road Building when it opens in early 1997. The space vacated by the faculty/staff clinic, according to Williams, will be transformed into a health education resource center for students with computer workstations and software. There also will be nutrition services and consultations, peer education programs and substance abuse programs. "We hope to have more of a presence outside of traditional health services and sick patient visits," said Williams. The transformed offices, she said, "will be totally dedicated to student care."

-- Nancy M. Spitler

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