Health Services Gets a Check-Up

Audio Interview Edited by Nicholas DePaul

Marist freshman Jake Litts was not feeling well. His newfound stomachache led to pains, nausea, and vomiting: not a nice combo for a working college student. Like many undergraduates before him in the same position, Litts decided to go to Health Services to try and get some help. But when he entered the office for his first visit, he was met with a closed door.

According to Litts, upon entering Health Services as a walk-in and telling them of his symptoms, they responded by instructing him to return tomorrow. He agreed to come back the next day, even though he knew he was going to feel better by then. “Me, generally, I really don’t get sick,” said Litts. “I usually get sick for a day and then the next day I’m fine. I just needed that immediate help on that day instead of the next day.”

Litts was grateful that his condition was minor enough when they turned him away. He said if the situation had been more serious he would have been upset with Health Services’ reaction. Litts was lucky.

In the Fall 2016 semester, a Marist student who does not wish to be named came down with what she described as a horrible throat pain along with symptoms of congestion and exhaustion. She made an appointment with Health Services for the following day. They tested her for mono and strep and both tests came back negative. Health Services diagnosed the student with a bad head cold and gave her aspirin for the pain. After over a week, the student was still not feeling any better, was losing sleep due to her illness, and decided to make a second appointment. Upon this consultation, Health Services told her she had a virus and wrote her a prescription cough medicine with codeine to help her sleep.

A week following this appointment, the student went home and, while her symptoms were not as bad as they were prior, she was still not feeling well. She visited her regular practitioner and was told, after being in his office for not even four minutes, that she had a severe case of walking pneumonia and a badly infected right lung.

The student’s doctor put her on heavy antibiotics in response to her condition. After his treatments, she regained her health by the time she returned to campus.

“The experience made me very wary of Health Services,” shared the student. “I will still go to them if another situation arises in which I don’t feel I can adequately care for myself, but I take everything with a grain of salt now.”

When asked about these two cases, Health Services declined to comment.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 83.6 percent of adults had contact with a health care professional in the past year. Applying this statistic to Health Services, out of the 5,576 undergraduate students U.S. News projects Marist to have, roughly 4,662 of them will be treated by Health Services in one year alone. We have no record of how many employees work at Health Services, but hospitals combine activity analysis with measures of utilization and workload to determine staffing requirements, known as the Workload Indicators of Staffing Need (WISN) method.

Conversely to these students, freshman Kaeden Andrasko also faced a serious health scare but witnessed what he describes as a more positive and friendly encounter with Health Services.

Andrasko came into Health Services perturbed by multiple headaches. He made a Saturday appointment where, after examination, an employee told him to come back the next day and they would go from there. He did as the doctor said and returned the next day complaining of the same problems. The doctor gave him a physical and told Andrasko to come back the following day, as that was when the “real doctor” would be in. Andrasko returned once again, underwent more tests, and received good results. Health Services then decided to take his blood, and these tests came back reporting high amounts of hemoglobin and iron. Due to the test results, the employee told him to come back so they could schedule an appointment with a neurologist in his hometown.

This collaboration to schedule an appointment was the last time Health Services acted in his case. Andrasko returned home, visited the neurologist for a check-up and two MRIs, and was told they had found nothing there.

“[The employee] was so nice,” commented Andrasko, a big smile sweeping across his face as he recounted the story. “She called me on various separate occasions just to see how everything was and to follow up.”

When asked about the negative comments students had shared about Health Services, Andrasko responded, “I could see how maybe different problems have different outcomes. I know someone that went there for a stomachache and they were angry with nothing being done. But there’s some things you can’t do anything about. What would you expect Health Services to do for a stomachache? There’s not much they can do except tell you that’s what it is and you’re going to have to deal with it. I went there for a pretty serious health problem and they were absolutely great, they did everything.”

Alexandria Watts