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8.27.2010

A Word from Student Health and Wellness

8.27.2010
Over the years, students have told us "you can't schedule being sick." To respond to that very legitimate concern, we developed a "walk-in" system. In that system (modeled after the emergency room or urgent care centers), students could walk-in to the Health Center and ask to be seen without an appointment. The system operated on a first-come, first-served basis, with the sickest students being seen first. In that walk-in system, the wait was directly proportional to the number of students walking in: more students in walk-ins meant longer wait times.

This past year, the feedback we got was clear: the wait was too long. We took your feedback to heart. Over the summer, we consulted with colleagues at other schools, researched the practice management literature, and consulted with a group of students.


As a result of these deliberations, the Student Health and Wellness Center is pleased to announce the launching of its same-day (open access) appointment system, beginning Monday August 30. "Open-access" is the name most health care practices use but your fellow students told us "same-day" better conveyed what we are trying to do. Here's how it will work. Each day, we will start with approximately 60-80% of our appointment slots unfilled (we'll call these unfilled slots "same-day" appointment slots). These slots can be booked by students with acute illnesses or injuries. The "same-day" appointment slots will be spread across all providers and will be available throughout the day. By spreading the "same-day" appointment slots throughout the day, we hope to avoid the bunching and long waits that occurred in the old walk-in system. In this open acccess system, you'll be able to get a "same day" appointment by phone or in-person and be able to leave the Health Center to do other things until your appointment-time arrives. 


Continued... 

The rest of the appointment slots in this system are the traditional slots that students can book weeks in advance (we'll call them "scheduled appointments"). These scheduled appointment slots are typically the longer appointment blocks needed for annual gynecologic exams, routine physical exams, and travel/study abroad consults. But we will also have scheduled appointment slots for students with chronic or prolonged illnesses such as asthma, diabetes and mononucleosis who need regular monitoring of their illnesses. You can also book one of these appointment slots if you have something you want checked out but won't have any free for at least a few days.

Monday's "same day" appointment slots will be released beginning at 8:30 AM Monday morning. "Same-day" appointment slots for Tuesday through Friday will be released beginning at 1 PM the day before (for example, Tuesday's "same day" slots will be released beginning at 1 PM on Monday). Our Saturday hours and system will remain unchanged from previous years (we'll be open from 9 AM until noon for sick visits only).


We hope this open access/same-day appointment system will serve your needs better than the old walk-in system - that is, being seen within a reasonably prompt time frame without having to sit in the Health Center for hours. While we are optimistic that it will accomplish these goals, we also recognize that we may need to fine-tune it over the semester or year. Based on a review of how students utilized our services over the past two years, we believe that starting each day with at least 60% of slots unfilled should acccommodate the needs of students who become ill or are injured; but we are prepared to tweak the system if we find that the number needs to be adjusted. As always we welcome your constructive feedback.

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