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Saturday, September 18, 2021

Editorial: Cowell Open Access

On Aug. 31, the Cowell Student Health Center changed its appointment system to make students’ lives easier. Previously, appointments were not guaranteed for the same day students called. Now, students can call and make an appointment for the day of. This excludes specialty appointments with, say, a neurologist; such appointments still need to be made in advance.

Before the new system, students would call Cowell for an appointment, get put on hold, talk to an advice nurse and then – finally – reach the appointment desk, only to get an appointment for the next day.

With Open Access, students can now continually see the same doctor instead of jumping around from one to the other.

However, those specialty appointments are still a hassle to schedule. Only one dermatologist, for example, is employed at Cowell, and those appointments can only be made one month in advance with a referral.

Although this new system does have its perks, it still doesn’t address the important issues of student health care at Cowell.

Among students, it’s common knowledge – and sometimes a joke – that Cowell will test you for mono, make you wait (and sometimes miss class) for two hours, tell you to “walk it off,” take Advil, or in one case, drink chicken soup from a mug because slurping soup from a spoon might make your throat hurt.

As stated in an Oct. 7 article titled “New scheduling system for Health Center,” Dr. Michelle Famula found that “we had many students that were using the health center as their primary care source.”

Cowell is the primary care provider for those students, who pay $349 per quarter for the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP). Additionally, SHIP is automatically charged to a student’s account – unless they opt out through a waiver process.

There are a number of issues that are arguably more important than the appointment system – a system that Cowell spent two years researching, according to Famula.

One can expect a long wait by phone when calling Cowell or any other health care system for that matter, just as one can expect a long line at the DMV. The issue is not the waiting; it’s the service itself.

We like that Cowell has addressed this appointment-making issue. We hope they’ll put as much effort into addressing some of the other issues students have with the treatment they provide.

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