Student Health Clinic sees drastic increase in appointment numbers


J. Michael Bertsch, News and Lifestyles Editor

At the March 2 Students’ Association meeting, the Student Health Clinic requested over $53,000 in additional funds from the Senate to cover personnel increases.

SA is in the initial stages of preparing the 2021 budget.

In addition to funding student organizations, a portion of the Senate’s budget covers 59% of the clinic’s total budget.

This year, the Student Health Clinic is requesting $984,008, an additional $53,633 from last year’s budget request.

“The reason for that increase is strictly personnel,” said Douglas Wermedal, associate vice president for Student Affairs. “Last year (the Senate) decided to allocate more dollars to hire another counselor to improve access, so that $53,600 is the salary and benefits for that position we did hire.”

Hiring another counselor is not the only effort the Student Health Clinic has taken to increase access for students in need.

“We heard you loud and clear when we were doing the strategic planning,” said Tamara Lunday, director of Student Health and Counseling. “We heard extended hours, that you need more access.”

In response to student feedback, the Student Health Clinic increased hours to 8 a.m.–7 p.m. on Tuesdays and created an online appointment portal, to make scheduling appointments easier for students.

Extending the clinic hours has increased appointment availability by over 400 student health appointments and over 165 counseling appointments.

“We wanted to make it easier to make appointments, so we set up the portal last year,” Lunday said. “From July 2018 to January 2019, we had 100 student appointments, where from July 2019 to January 2020 we had 350 student appointments made through the portal. That’s a 150% increase.”

This increase in accessibility is having a large impact on the number of students visiting the clinic. Since the 2017-18 school year, there has been an increase of 531 student health appointments and 499 student increase in counseling appointments.

“I hope you hear a tone of gratitude because that’s how we genuinely feel,” Wermedal said. “Each of those 500 students having an opportunity to come through those corridors [student health and counseling] and get the support they need to get a diploma. That is work worth doing, and I thank you for that.”