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Student Senate reviews healthcare, approves SUB executive board

| Thursday, March 23, 2017

Sharon McMullen, director of University Health Services (UHS) spoke to student senate Wednesday about current and future changes to UHS. The meeting also featured Student Union Board (SUB) executive board nominations and the passing of resolution SS1617-33, regarding the release of mental health information and student awareness of UHS. 

McMullen discussed the current state of UHS and changes within the department.

“College health is essentially an academic retention program,” she said. “Colleges recognize that wellbeing is essential to learning, and so we provide our services so you can achieve your academic goals.”

The department has recently undertaken two major strategic initiatives — implementation of electronic medical records and the reorganization of the department, McMullen said.

“We have made the tectonic shift from writing with a pen on paper and we have entered the digital age,” she said. “This has been something a long time in the works. We made the shift in August, and it has worked out really well.”

McMullen said UHS was the 40th campus organization to undertake a “robust” reorganization process designed by the University.

“Our goal for this reorganization is to optimize our scope of services and our hours of operation to meet student need,” she said.

UHS determined necessary changes based on student surveys, McMullen said.

“Here’s what you’ve told us — college students go to college between nine and five,” she said. “How come we can only see a provider between nine and five? We are benchmarking the data that we have crunched, and are building a new and improved, and reinvigorated department. Communication to the entire community, including to you, our most important stakeholders, will happen this summer.”

Another topic McMullen said she was asked to talk about was walk-in fees.

“One of the things that college health does is help young adults become good consumers of healthcare … walking into a healthcare provider is not going to serve you well when you leave university,” she said. “The idea behind the walk-in fee is a disincentive — something to make the patients think a little bit and call before they come in.

“It really hasn’t worked as intended,” she said. “The amount, $5, is either not a consideration or — what I’m really concerned about — is the relatively smaller proportion for whom $5 is a big deal. I never want anyone to not come in and get the care they need because they don’t have $5. I hear you, so please know that this is something that we are carefully considering with our reorganization.”

The SUB executive board nominations followed McMullen’s presentation, with the members rising to answer questions from the senators. Junior Madi Purrenhage responded to a question about future changes within SUB.

“We’re really trying to get more people involved with the program and involved with planning, and so there’s been some structural changes to achieve that,” she said. “There’s been a big push this year to get as many people who want to get a role to have a role.”

The SUB executive board was approved by the senate vote.

Members of First Undergraduate Experience in Leadership (FUEL) presented resolution SS1617-33. The resolution was titled “A resolution supporting song-term mental health care information being released and greater student awareness of University mental health services.” In a brief panel, the members of FUEL summarized their plans for reducing the stigma surrounding mental health and endorsing a movement to improve mental health services on campus.

The resolution was approved by unanimous vote.

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About Andrew Cameron

Andrew is a senior from Orange County, California. He is an associate news editor at the Observer, and is majoring in Biological Sciences and English. While he has greatly enjoyed his time at Notre Dame, during the winter months he often wonders why he ever left the perennial warmth of Southern California.

Contact Andrew