Student Health Implements Saturday Hours

Molly Brand, Staff Writer

Student Health Services will now be open on Saturdays in addition to its normal Monday to Friday hours. The first Saturday hours were held May 2 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and the pilot program will continue through the end of the semester and next year.

On May 2, five students took advantage of the new hours, which was a good showing, according to Vice President and Dean of Students Eric Estes.

“I’m sure [participation] will increase,” Estes said in an email to the Review.

One administrative assistant and two nurse practitioners will be present at these Saturday hours, according to member of the student health working group and College junior Avalon McKee. All regular services will be provided, including distribution of the Plan B emergency contraceptive.

Working alongside Estes, the Student Senate Student Health Working Group has pushed for expanded hours at Student Health over the past several semesters.

This pilot program is one of many steps designed to increase quality and accessibility of health care for students. According to McKee, the idea of piloting weekend hours at Student Health got off the ground when Estes suggested using funding from the new Student Support Initiative Fund.

“Increased accessibility of Student Health Services has always been a priority [of the working group],” McKee said. “It’s always been a question of where do we get the money to do that and to get all the people needed on board, like John [Harshbarger, director of Student Health and Counseling Services] and the nurses and the administrative assistants at Student Health.”

The pilot Saturday hours are being paid for with funding from the Student Support Initiatives Fund, which was established in March 2015 by members of the Board of Trustees. The purpose of the fund is to support students who are deemed “at-risk,” which often includes low-income students, students of color and students with disabilities.

According to McKee, at-risk students are expected to benefit from Saturday hours.

“Often [at-risk] students … are really overwhelmed during the workweek, during business hours, and so we’re opening up that space for them on the weekend.”

The pilot program is one of the first uses for the Student Support Initiative fund, though money has been directed toward several other programs, according to President Marvin Krislov.

“The fund is supporting emergency funds, and … peer mentors and student accessibility advocates programs — that’s a three-year commitment — [and] the endowed book fund, the endowed emergency medical fund, the Saturday hours … and an assistant director in the Office of Disability Services,” Krislov said.

According to Estes, the administration is trying to find a long-term funding source for the pilot program besides the fund.

McKee said that students should think critically about whether they need weekend access and suggested that people should go to Student Health during regular Monday to Friday hours if their schedules permit so that students who rely on Saturday hours will be able to access the limited weekend hours. She added that students could support the new hours even if they don’t actually attend.

“If you, a student, aren’t going to go during these pilot hours but think it’s a really great idea, email Eric Estes or John [Harshbarger] or whoever [you] feel connected to and say that [you] support it,” McKee said.