By Izzi Beer
While healthcare professionals are working hard to ensure that no student is left unprovided for, it is still unreasonable to assume that every student is satisfied with their experiences at HSU’s health care center for students. Melaina Valdes, 19, is a student here at HSU and was able to attest to her less than ideal visits – or lack thereof – at the health center. The lack of night hours available here on campus is subject of a lot of discussion – especially for students living here in the dorms.
“I sprained and messed up my knee pretty badly a few weeks after winter break ended on a Friday night, and was unable to move it,” Valdes said. “The health center was closed so I had to go to urgent care and pay a ton of money for everything.”
Luckily Valdes knew someone with a car to take her to the local urgent care facility.
“It’s kinda scary to think about that,” Valdes said. “Transport to an emergency room like that can cost a lot of money, which I don’t have. Luckily I didn’t need immediate surgery to fix anything, but if I could’ve at least had a consult with someone on campus, I wouldn’t have had someone drive me so far off campus so late at night just for someone to tell me what I already knew and give me pain meds.”
If you are a student at a university or college, you probably have experienced some sort of illness or ailment that isn’t quite pressing enough to make the trip out to the nearest emergency room, but your symptoms are still unpleasant enough that you must seek out some sort of medical attention. As many students who live on campus can attest, sometimes it can be very difficult to adequately care for themselves.
Here at Humboldt, students have a non-urgent health care center on campus that attempts to deal with the massive influx of patients and their varying ailments. In recent news, the topic of hot discussion regarding accessible health care (especially during the current administration) is the Affordable Care Act. Many students at HSU are uninsured.
Brian Mistler PhD, is HSU’s executive director of student health services. He has worked here since fall of 2016, but has over a decade of experience managing medical facilities in higher education settings. Mistler earned his PhD in psychology and remains committed to helping students with their physical and mental health. When prompted about the worries some students have regarding care with little to no coverage, he assured that the Health Center does its very best to accommodate, however being understaffed and underfunded contributes to the long waits and sometimes inconvenient waits some students are accustomed to at the health center.
“University medical and counseling services across the country have seen increased demand from students, and fears of changes to the ACA is only one of the most recent factors that has made it impossible for the current limited staff to keep up with student needs,” Mistler said. “I know being able to get medical and counseling services to help with issues that prevent students from focusing on their academics is critical to student graduation, and we have a knowledgeable and hard-working team in the health center doing the best they can every day to serve students most critical needs.”
When speaking with Mistler, he made apparent several misconceptions about running a public medical center very clear. There are substantial and numerous programs in place at HSU which attempt to make seeking health care – be it physical or mental – more attainable.
“HSU’s current medical, CAPS, and health education staff are all doing the best they can to serve the increasing needs of our students with relatively few staff, understanding resources are difficult for students and staff both to access in the community,” Mistler said. “Like most public universities, we simply don’t have enough therapists to provide ongoing therapy to all students, and so our therapists are often doing their best to help students with the most serious and urgent concerns.”
Mistler also spoke to the standing affiliation our university has with federally funded facilities like Planned Parenthood, and how vital it is for our community to utilize such resources. “Our partnerships with agencies like Planned Parenthood and the Humboldt Public health department are just one of the ways we work to provide as many no-cost services as we can for students, and they’re critical to supporting student health,” Mistler said.
HSU student Kathleen Klauber, 19, said with the end of term is drawing close, it can be extremely difficult to access proper psychological care.
“My friend died recently, so I’ve been going through a lot,” Klauber said. “And I wanted help for anxiety and I’ve been pretty depressed and it’s like totally impaired my studies and stuff but the health center didn’t really offer me much help since it’s the end of the year.”