Health center solves waiting woes with new nurse practitioner

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Staff Writer

In the first few weeks of school, students may have noticed a difficulty in getting an appointment at the Health and Counseling Center on campus.

Normally, the health center tries to see students within a day or two of them calling in. However, at the beginning of the semester, the center was short-staffed and students had to wait longer for appointments.

In January, some students were told they would need to wait five days, at the least, for an appointment.

Cecilia Carvajal, graduate student at St. Edward’s University, started feeling sick the first week of the semester, but wasn’t given an appointment until the week after.

“I went on a Wednesday and they gave me an appointment for the next week on a Thursday,” Carvajal said. “During the weekend it got more complicated, I couldn’t breathe or have a sentence without coughing.”

After the long Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, Carvajal went into the center and she was luckily able to schedule an earlier appointment when someone else canceled.

Typically, if a student looks or sounds really sick, the receptionists will create a makeshift waiting list.

This is how Carvajal got help.

She was able to get an appointment two days earlier than her previously assigned one.

During that appointment, she was diagnosed with bronchitis.

Just a few days later, junior Schaddai Pina also tried to get an appointment at the Health and Counseling Center and was met with a similar response.

She received an appointment date for a week later.

Unsatisfied, Pina went to the health center with a fever the next morning.

“I went in and they could see how sick I was, so they told me to go to the urgent care center next to P. Terry’s,” Pina said.

At the urgent care center she was tested and confirmed to have the flu. She ended up paying $214 for the visit.

Nurse-practitioner and coordinator for health services, Mary Jones, said if students are desperate to see a doctor the the center has no availabilities, they recommend students to visit an urgent care center or one of the physicians that the center works with.

The receptionist on duty will sometimes give students a nurse’s number to call and check their symptoms and see how serious their condition is.

With the staffing problem now solved, Jones said the health center is now back to getting students an appointment within one day.

“Usually you can get an appointment the same day or the next day,” Jones said. “We had a little staffing issue earlier, we were down one nurse practitioner, and we have now hired another one. It was taking a little bit longer, up to four or five days, because we only had one NP. We should be back up to speed now.”

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