Wittenberg’s administration is looking into potential reforms for the Health Center, according to Dean of Students, Casey Gill.
Some of the possible changes include partnering up with a third party in the healthcare business, staying open for longer hours and having a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant in the space for more time each week.
The university is hoping to pair up with Mercy Health Partners as the third party, according to Gill.
“This will be a great way for us to provide a service with professionals in the business while also saving money for the institution,” Gill said.
Gill said that one of the main changes for students is that they would not be billed through their university student account. Instead, students would be required to present their insurance card upon entering the Health Center.
“It is required by law that all are covered by health insurance,” Gill said. “If the university partners with another entity to provide primary care to our students in the Health Center space, the university assumes that the third party entity would require anyone that utilizes their services to have insurance or they would be expected to pay the fee for the service.”
Other changes that directly affect students include allowing for a specialized type of professional in the space such as a female health specialist, an allergy specialist, a behavioral health or a psychiatric specialist, said Gill.
Additionally, Gill said that the Health Center would potentially be open for evening hours and in addition ,Saturday hours.
Although Gill said that the potential reforms are solely a budgetary function and not in response to student complaints, several students have expressed frustration at the currently limited hours in the Health Center.
Anna Moore, ‘16, who worked as a receptionist in the Health Center for two years, said that the Health Center would receive a complaint at least once a week that there weren’t enough available appointments and that even though the Health Center staff is well-qualified and easy to work with, scheduling appointments was difficult.
“The limited hours that the doctor is available has made it very difficult to get much needed medicine, many times leaving me to go to urgent care which is too expensive to use as a regular doctor throughout four years at Wittenberg,” Megan Heitkemper, ’16, said.
Gill said that talk for the reforms began because Wittenberg, like many other small liberal arts schools, began to question why they were involved in the healthcare business, when there are companies in the community that actually specialize in the healthcare services.
If the university comes to a mutual agreement with Mercy Health Partners, Gill said that the reforms will take place beginning Jan. 1. If no mutual agreement is established, Gill said that the university will continue to evaluate other potential third parties.
“We’re hoping that if we come to an agreement with Mercy, it will help save some of our expense dollars will all of the budget cuts that we’ve had,” Gill said. “This partnership could be a win-win for us if we can come to a mutual agreement with Mercy.”