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Health Services treats record numbers

Matthew Smedberg | Tuesday, December 2, 2003

Record numbers of students fell sick in the days before Thanksgiving as a flu-like bug circulated around campus, and University Health Center officials said they struggled under the load of hundreds of students seeking help and medication.

The Health Center, which regularly sees 300 to 400 patients weekly, saw almost 1,000 in the week ending Nov. 22 and another 700 the week before that.

“Approximately 1,500 students presented with upper respiratory disorders” in that two-week span, said Ann Kleva, director of Health Services, and about 250 were eventually treated specifically for influenza.

“My staff has been working unbelievably well as a team, pitching in and working overtime and covering for each other to meet the needs of all the students who streamed in” she said. Students often faced long lines before even being seen by a nurse.

Freshman Katie Gallagher waited at least 20 minutes to be treated in the Health Center Nov. 24. She had been sick since the previous Thursday, she said, but her friends had finally convinced her to be treated.

“I missed all my Friday classes,” she said. “I couldn’t get off the futon.”

Gallagher said that she made up material she missed with her calculus professor, but her other professors didn’t seem to care.

Some professors said they had not noticed significant numbers of absences over the week.

“Everyone has been in class,” said Pit-Mann Wong, a calculus professor.

Chemistry professor Graham Lappin agreed, saying he had noticed no change in his class’ attendance. He added, however, that his section “is composed mostly of engineers; I think most of them are tough and will stick something like that out.”

Still, students affected by the circulating illnesses must take care, Kleva said.

“Supportive measures, adequate hydration, rest and time are the core factors in recovery,” said Kleva. “[We] only wish there were more they could do to make the students feel more comfortable.”

Students who still want or need a flu shot can visit Health Services’ Web site to find area locations where they are being offered.