Aug. 2, 2007
By Mary Reed and George Mauzy
Ohio University's Division of Student Affairs has announced two initial steps to improve student health services as it awaits final recommendations resulting from a review of Hudson Health Center programs and services.
Vice President for Student Affairs Kent Smith said the division will place responsibility for oversight of medical, counseling and psychological services with an executive director of student health services. In addition, Health, Education and Wellness has changed its name to Health Promotion and moved to Baker University Center 339, better integrating it with other Student Affairs offerings. (See Student Affairs interim organizational chart).
"Student health is essential from a holistic point of view. The healthier students are, the more likely they are to succeed and achieve their educational goals," Smith said. "For me, this is all about student success."
The changes were among several recommended by Keeling & Associates, an independent consulting firm Smith hired to make short- and long-term recommendations to improve Hudson Health Center programs and services. A final report due next week, combined with other input, will contribute to a plan to transform student health services, Smith said.
Smith said the draft recommendations provide valuable information to consider regarding education, revenue generation, staffing and strategic partnerships.
Health Promotion already has benefited from its July move, he said.
"They're doing great work, and I look forward to them strengthening what they do--to take advantage of the natural traffic at Baker Center," Smith said. "This will have a direct impact on the lives of students this fall."
Char Kopchick, director of Health Promotion, said the more central campus location and integration with other Student Affairs services will allow the office to better fulfill its educational role. The department is charged with assessing and responding to students' health and wellness through proactive programs and services.
"Now, Health Promotion is in the proximity of the Department of Campus Life and all the student organizations," Kopchick said. "When you do what we do, being in the mix with where the students are is a major benefit. We're now on their pathway."
In addition to the changes already made, Smith said Student Affairs staff will examine these additional recommendations:
- Develop a renewed institutional strategy for addressing student health
- Renovate Hudson Health Center, built in 1948,or develop a new space for health services
- Increase medical staff, mental health staff and support staff by at least 10 positions
- Develop a sustainable funding model for health-related programs and services
- Directly bill students' insurance companies for such things as lab tests, x-rays, pharmaceuticals and medical supplies
- Expand access to routine gynecology services
- Reinstate a student health advisory board
The report also calls for an integrated campus-community approach to these changes, noting the benefits of having the College of Osteopathic Medicine and University Medical Associates at hand. "Ohio University's geographic, social, medical and demographic context creates unique opportunities for non-incremental, innovative solutions that require entrepreneurial planning and broad collaboration," the report states.
Smith said the university is committed to providing quality services to meet students' health and mental health needs.
"We take this report very seriously," Smith said. "We have already moved forward with implementing some of the recommendations at this point. The rest we will explore, focusing on what is in the best interest of student health and student success."