Since I came to Ithaca College in 2011, significant changes have occurred all around. The Athletics and Events Center was opened, Hill Center was redone and a complete overhaul of the college’s identity standards was conducted, among many other things. The investment in the college’s success is obvious.
However, there is a serious lack of attention and resources being directed to the Hammond Health Center. In 2013, the insurance costs doubled to comply with Obamacare, leading to an increase in services covered by the health center. As a student with insurance through the college, I was upset to see the price raise but thrilled to utilize the health center more — which was just a quick walk from my dorm.
Despite the increase in coverage at the health center, the experience is no different. First, it is difficult to see the doctor. It can take a week or even two weeks to secure an appointment with the doctor, and sometimes these issues can’t wait. It is clear that the center is understaffed and overbooked, resulting in a supply of resources that simply cannot meet the demand that our college presents. Health and wellness is becoming increasingly important, especially among college students, and it should be a top priority. An investment in more physicians and medical resources would mean a greater attention to student health at the college.
Second, the wait time is lengthy. This is to be expected at most medical facilities. However, for students who have classes all day and only an hour to go to the health center, it can mean cutting the appointment short or potentially missing classes. Furthermore, after the long wait, most of the appointment is spent doing diagnostics with a nurse. Then, you wait again for as long — or even longer than when you arrived — to see the doctor who you just waited two weeks to see. So much of the process to receive care consists of waiting time, which many college students cannot afford on an already tight schedule.
Lastly, and most importantly, the diagnosis and treatment is not at the same level of quality as other medical facilities in town. Often, it doesn’t even solve the problem. My friend visited the health center with a stomach bug and was given ginger ale and nausea pills to treat it, which worked only temporarily. Personally, I visited with a similar issue and received medication. The issue persisted, and the health center did not have an available appointment for a week, so I went to Cayuga Medical Center — where my insurance only covers a percentage of services. While paying for an insurance plan that I thought would satisfy my basic health needs, the last thing I thought I’d have to do is visit another health facility.
In the past two years I have spent almost triple the cost of student health insurance at the college on visits to other medical facilities, which completely contradicts the notion that a higher insurance cost will lead to better care and coverage. Health and wellness is critical for college students, and the college should be investing more in the health center to provide quality care. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when the health center adequately provides care and treatment, but for the times it simply cannot meet the demand on our campus, it forces some students into compromising positions. If Ithaca College can allocate immense resources to athletics, facilities and image, it can certainly secure some resources for an underfunded health center.
Alexis Beebe is a senior communication management and design major. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.