Administration Responds to Health Center Complaints

What you should know: On Jan. 27, Dean Casey Gill sent a letter to students, faculty and staff announcing Wittenberg’s new partnership with Community Mercy Health Partners (CMHP) to begin operating an on-site health center beginning Feb. 1. Such a collaboration would mean the expansion of certain services, the termination of nurses Linda Sauers and Judy Streibel, the retention of Director of Counseling Center Linda Lauffenberger and Erin Yontz, MS, CRNP, and the direct submission of claims to a student’s health care insurance provider.

On Feb. 28, the Torch published opinion pieces by both alumni and faculty outlining their disapproval of the partnership. The pieces were primarily centered around CMHP’s lack of contraceptive health care services, specifically its misalignment with the ELCA’s stance on contraceptive care and reproductive health.  On Mar. 3, Yontz formally left her position at the Center.

The most recent update to the agreement between Wittenberg University’s Health Center and CMHP came on Mar. 14 by way of Vice President for Finance and Administration Randy Freebourn’s all-campus email. The letter outlined Wittenberg’s long-standing relationship with CMHP/Springfield Regional Medical Center for athletic training and physical rehabilitation needs. The letter went on to highlight the estimated $300,000 in savings the new contract brought about, reinforcing this as the best option despite their exploration of four other potential partners.

Freebourn also stated: “we are aware of CMHP’s position on reproductive health and contraceptive services.” Given that, on average, 5.52 total visits per week occurred at the health center over the past 10 years for such services, “we have been working diligently over the past month to find a workable solution,” the email read.

In an interview with Mark DeVilbiss, associate dean for Residence Life, he expanded upon such solutions – specifically, Wittenberg’s newly added transportation service “intended for health appointments during the day,” DeVilbiss said.

Students interested in receiving the service should call motor pool; however, time constraints are “still being worked on,” he said.

“It can be used for contraceptive care appointments. So if a student wants to get birth control and doesn’t want to be seen on campus for privacy reasons or if they go to the health center and they can’t give the exact thing they want . . . we have an arrangement with one office in town where we would be glad to send our students,” DeVilbiss said.

Said office was also mentioned in Freebourn’s email as “the independent local Springfield practice of OB/GYN Limited at 1108 Vester Avenue.” A doctor from the OB/GYN Limited will also be made available for appointment every Monday from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Brenna Doherty, a senior mentioned in a previous article on the health center’s new partnership, has had concerns of her own with the bi-weekly immunotherapy shots she has been receiving from the Health Center for allergies.

“For the past year and a half, I have been able to utilize the convenience of the Health Center being able to administer my allergy shots to me,” Doherty said.

“I was recently told that they are discontinuing this service to students on campus without any explanation as to why they were stopping; even after multiple phone calls to their offices and to Mark DeVilbiss, I still could not receive a clear reason as to why they were no longer allowed to administer the shots,” Doherty added.

“I have been allowed, after multiple conversations, to receive my last two shots with them, but only because I will be graduating in May,” Doherty said.

Following such conversations, however, DeVilbiss said: “I have had subsequent conversations with the Health Center, and they will be offering the shots for the spring, and the plan is to continue them in fall.”

In order to tackle potential misconceptions or other student concerns, Student Senate will be hosting a Q&A session for students who have concerns, questions or comments on Thursday, Mar. 24 at 11:45 a.m.

“My sincere hope is that this [partnership] will meet all the needs of Wittenberg students. I believe that this will meet the needs of Wittenberg students,” DeVilbiss said.

To this date, DeVilbiss has only received one email from a student contacting him directly with concerns.

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