To whom it may concern,
We, as alumni of Wittenberg University, are concerned and disappointed regarding the abrupt changes in the Health Center management at Wittenberg, due to the new partnership with Community Mercy Health Partners (CMHP). While the privatization of the Health Center may save the university a little money, this collaboration comes at a high cost to students. We believe that this partnership will cause more harm than good to students of Wittenberg University.
As alumni, we are current and former residents of Springfield, some of whom have had experiences with CMHP in the past. We have experienced or witnessed discriminatory treatment from their employees regarding sexual orientation or gender expression. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender students should not feel pressured by their health care providers, be treated negatively or receive lower quality care for any reason, least of which because of their sexual orientation or gender expression. CMHP does not offer hormone therapy for transgender patients. We are disturbed that medical professionals who are not only untrained in the particular health concerns of the LGBT community, but also willfully intolerant would be allowed to provide care on campus, let alone to be the only option for our friends, classmates and colleagues who are part of the LGBT community. The Wittenberg community deserves better.
CMHP does not prescribe contraceptives. Contraceptive access is key for everyone, especially people who may become pregnant, to make decisions in their lives. Reproductive health care affects partners, families, and most importantly, the recipients. Many young women require birth control for medicinal purposes, in addition to those who are sexually active. College is often the first opportunity that students have to make decisions about their sexual lives, and access to contraceptives help them to make the best choices. We are concerned again that CMHP’s policies will prevent the highest quality of care to students seeking health advice and services during their college years. We are also deeply concerned regarding Mark DeVilbiss’s comments that the university “will be offering contraceptives like we always have, outside of our new health center partnership.” Mr. DeVilbiss recently informed the campus community that an unnamed medical professional will hold office hours at a location outside of the Health Center, where students would seek health care services, to advise students of their reproductive health care options and prescribe contraceptives. Removing contraceptives from the Health Center, where health care services are provided, effectively removes contraceptives from the realm of acceptable health care services, which we find abhorrent.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) has this to say about contraception: “sexually active people have the responsibility to protect their sexual partner from both emotional and physical harm, as well as to protect themselves and their partners from sexually transmitted diseases and the possibility of an unwanted pregnancy.” As alumni of this Lutheran-affiliated university, we encourage Wittenberg to follow the policy of the ELCA regarding this matter, and offer contraceptives to students who seek them.
As alumni, we are representatives of the university; we are the first and the best to describe the quality of education and life experience we received while students at Wittenberg. We love our alma mater, and we share that love with everyone we meet. We pass our light on to others through the passions we discovered as a result of our college years. Thus, we feel strongly about the negative and far-reaching impacts of the new partnership with CMHP. We do not want to have to warn potential and incoming students, friends, colleagues and others about the lack of resources and support for LGBT students seeking health care, or students seeking contraceptive access for any reason. We implore Wittenberg to provide safe, accessible and equitable health care services to all students, and re-consider their partnership with CMHP.
Emily G. Shaw, ’11; Toni G. Engle, ’11; Patrick Deering, ’10; Lauren Coffey, ’13; Karen Stover, ’10; Valerie P. O’Brien, ’10; Edith Sicken, ’10; Kristyn Vergauwen, ’13; Emily Daniels Weiss, ’09; Katheryne Ayers, ’10; Jessica Lee Robinson, ’08; Emily Franzen (nee Linkous), ’10; Nishant Makhija, ’12; Phillip Zarobell, ’10; Theresa Liszkay Zarobell, ’11; Roxie Patton, ’09; Hannah Jensen-Reinke, ’12; Em Elliott, ’10; Bethany Ayres, ’12; Dana Norris, ’01; Wayne Parker Wright, ‘12; Jessica Gillota, ‘00; Earl David Ratliff, ‘10; Heather West, ‘10