Page 8 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, September 9, 1988
cures what ails ya
Ann Barden, a physicians assistant at the University's Health Services
patient at the clinic. Health Services handles nearly 100,000 cases a
percent of whom are students.
Clinic, examines a
year, close to 60
BY ANNA SENKEVITCH
Students break their arms falling
out of lofts. They sprain ankles
jumping around at football games.
They bruise after smashing into each
other at concerts. They catch colds,
get rashes, and develop migraines.
And sometimes during bouts with
good health, they seek birth control,
weightwatching tips, and stop-
Located just off North University,
University Health Service is the
campus haven which offers to mend
most physical ails of students,
faculty and staff.
"Most younger kids on campus
come in to use Health Service for
things they wouldn't look into at
home," said University Health
Service Director Caesar Briefer, who
also serves as a physician at the
complex. "They simply don't know
what's serious and what isn't," he
added. "They've never facilitated their
own health care before."
THOUGH HE estimates
students make up 60 percent of the
nearly 100,000 visits UHS receives
annually, Briefer said he thinks new
students may sometimes be
intimidated by its layout. The main
entrance at 207 Fletcher is only a
lobby area; to get medical attention,
a student must wander through a
labyrinth to one of the complex's
"We're at a disadvantage because
our clinics are spread out all over the
place," Briefer said. He added that
UHS hopes to lessen the confusion
this fall by identifying the different
areas with color-coded signs.
Almost all UHS services, which
are provided on an outpatient basis
only, are covered by a mandatory fee
charged to registered University
students. The UHS pharmacy also
offers prescription drugs at
subsidized-reduced cost to its
The mandatory student fee -
$140.50 - does not cover UHS eye
exams or psychiatric counseling.
Nor does it pay for any treatments
provided outside of its complex,
such as major surgery at University
Hospital. Briefer said UHS therefore
strongly urges all students to have
The Michigan Student Assembly
currently sponsors a 12-month
Mutual of Omaha insurance policy
for an average of about $300 per
p, 40 N0
student, which 1800 students have
purchased for 1988.
School of Public Health doctoral
candidate Bill McCaughrin, chair of
MSA's subcommittee on student
health insurance, has led committee
research into both the effectiveness
of the MSA insurance plan and the
adequacy and patient satisfaction of
care given at the UHS clinics.
THE MSA subcommittee,
McCaughrin said, seeks to act as a
liaison between Health Services and
students by opening up forums for
discussion of health issues,
communicating student complaints
about health care to University
'All you have to do is see
the face of some kid that
you tell, "look, this is
herpes." It's a preventable
- University Health
administration, and assisting in the
development of new UHS programs.
"What we're looking at (are)
broad health issues of concern to U
of M students by working with the
students themselves," McCaughrin
said. "We want to raise the
awareness of the availability of UHS
to the students."
McCaughrin, whose committee
last fall gave an open house for
discussing health issues which went
virtually unattended, said "It's often
difficult to get people together and
trigger their minds to think about
But University Health Service has
been successful at directing students'
attentions toward health, said Robin
Sarris, director of health promotion
and community relations at UHS.
THOUGH SARRIS indicated
care for athletic injuries, skin
problems, and viral and upper
respiratory infection continue to be
the services most utilized by
students, the educational outreach
programs furnished by her office
have become very popular in the last
"We've had pretty good response
to our programs, especially in the
last year," she said.
The UHS health education
seminars, often guided by
upperclass- or graduate-level peer
leaders, attempt to teach students
through videos and discussion about
topics including alcohol and other
drug abuse, contraceptive methods,
nutrition, and stress management,
Sarris said. The birth control
program, created about 10 years ago,
is the oldest of the outreach
Sarris said she believes fear of
catching the AIDS virus has
increased student interest in health. x
Responding to what it perceived
as increasing student concerns, UHS
one year ago began offering free
anonymous testing for the AIDS-
causing human immunodeficiency
virus (HIV). Out of 600 students
tested since the program started, two
percent have tested positive for th'
UHS has also just developed what,
it calls an "Online Health Query
System," available on an MTS
computer program. A student
without needing a University
computer account, can type
questions into the program and
receive answers in 24 to 48 hours.
HEALTH SERVICE initiated
the system last semester, and now
provides an edited list of about 139
questions and answers for general
viewing by students who do have
McCaughrin said he believes one
of UHS's strongest points is in the
area of prevention. "One of the big
roles they play is to keep people
healthy," he said.
Though more and more students
seem to be utilizing UHSi
educational programs as Sarris
observed, Briefer said he recognizes
periodic student complaints about
the treatment complex.
High on the list of student gripes
about the medical services, Briefer
consented, is the long wait students
frequently must endure before getting
"If you use the appointment
system, there's no wait," he said.
"When you walk in, there's no way
we can guarantee." Briefer did note
that the UHS is equipped with an
emergency unit to care for walk-in
students who are "very sick...;
bleeding, or about to faint."
IN ADDITION, students often
dislike being seen by nurse
practitioners or physicians' aide
rather than physicians. Briefer said
he can't understand why.
"The nurse practitioners and the
physicians' assistants are more tha
capable," he countered. "Sometimes
they do even a better job. Doctors
get rushed." But students can chose
who they want to see if they're
willing to wait, he said.
Also, students have complaine$
about the fairly extensive educational
process required before UHS wil
prescribe birth control pills. The
program, Contraception Education
Program, is run by Health Educatio#
Department-trained peer leaders an
uses visual as well as written aides.
Briefer said numbers of unwanted
pregnancies are still shockingly higl
among what he calls a "creme de lt
creme" University population, in
which around 26 percent of the
nearly 1500 pregnancy testh
completed at UHS last year showe
positive. He said he is also amazed
by the continuing prevalence of
sexually transmitted diseases in'
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