On a Saturday I woke up with a stuffy nose, raging fever and nausea. Symptoms of the common cold or flu, which are all too familiar for a college student. Stony Brook would suggest taking a trip to Student Health Services or resting up.
I, however, caught the sickness on a weekend, when the Student Health Services center is closed.
Instead of going to a care center, which I should be doing considering I pay tuition to go to Stony Brook, I laid in bed, without any medicine. Attempts to sleep and rest were of no use, as the symptoms got the best of me. I know many others have been in this position before, and Stony Brook should do more to help.
There have been several complaints across campus and on the internet about the lack of availability of the SHS. On an official review on Google’s homepage, a user commented, “The campus infirmary is closed on weekends… When most people need it. That’s pretty ridiculous. They also close very early even on weekdays.”
Plenty of students on campus get sick on weekends – which makes sense, given that there is usually more interaction between people on weekends compared to work-crammed weekdays. Interactions while at parties, playing sports or whatever people on campus may be doing in their time off results in a considerable exchange of germs. It should be no surprise that many people are upset when they find out they can’t get any professional help on the weekend.
Part of the Student Health Service’s mission is the “delivery of quality healthcare in a dynamic environment that is recognized for providing compassionate medical services that support wellness and academic success.” Student Health Services does work hard and provide help for students, yet accessibility to these facilities is limited. The weekday hours of the center run from 8 a.m to 5 p.m., except for Tuesdays, when it is open until 7 p.m. To have the place close at 5 p.m. four days a week seems a bit difficult for students. Having the center open later would be beneficial to the students.
This doesn’t only occur at Stony Brook. Many universities across the country, including numerous SUNYs such as Binghamton, Old Westbury and Potsdam, close their student health centers on weekends. Why aren’t these health services accessible at reasonable times for students who pay thousands of dollars per semester in tuition?
What Stony Brook and other colleges such as SUNY Plattsburgh and New Paltz offer is a hotline for after-hour care. The hotline allows students to get in contact with professionals about what to do to treat their illness, but no direct care. This isn’t too much of a help considering we pay tuition to have a care center available and the ill student could possibly need medication for the sickness.
Another troubling factor is the lack of staff in the facility. There have been complaints in Google reviews that the pharmaceutical staff doesn’t show up on time, and that there usually aren’t enough workers to cover shifts. A solution for this would be to offer students who are upperclassmen in the medical school a shot at volunteer work. This would benefit the staff because they are getting help from people who are familiar with their job. It would benefit the students as well because it would allow them to get hands-on experience at a job in their field. Although Stony Brook University Hospital is available, it could be challenging to get a position there.
I understand the Student Health Services staff is here to help us, and I, along with all Stony Brook students, appreciate that. However, Stony Brook University needs to work on improving the way the center is run, starting with changing the hours of operation and offering students necessary urgent care whenever it is closed. Our school has an opportunity to be one of the first SUNYs to expand its hours of accessibility to students who are ill.