Inside Look: Wellness Centers: Integrating Services for the Mind and Body, Institutions Are Creating a One-Stop Shop for Student Health Needs

By Botelho, Stefanie | University Business, June 2015 | Go to article overview

Inside Look: Wellness Centers: Integrating Services for the Mind and Body, Institutions Are Creating a One-Stop Shop for Student Health Needs


Botelho, Stefanie, University Business


More diverse student populations demand more of the health and wellness services offered on campus today. Colleges and universities must meet the unique needs of veterans, and students who are international, older, recovering from addictions, or who have physical or mental disabilities. Many schools are meeting this challenge by combining physical and mental health services under one roof, and even integrating recreation into the mix.

The case for a comprehensive wellness center on campus has never been stronger, explains Jenny Haubenreiser, executive director of student health services at Oregon State University. "The need for primary care is acute in this country, particularly for students, and especially if they're coming in from out of town," she says. "There is a consumer literacy piece to the Affordable Care Act--including networks, copays, deductibles and more--that we can help with."

Oregon State links health, psychological and academic services. A card-swiping system tracks student interaction with various departments on campus, and a two-tiered survey process logs consumer satisfaction and invites suggestions for improvement. In this way, student behavior can be closely monitored, and departments can work together to create a cohesive treatment plan for patients.

This kind of technology enhances the health services, says M. Jacob Baggott, executive director of student health and wellness at The University of Alabama at Birmingham. "As more interactions with technology provide online options, the number of phone calls is reduced, sometimes freeing up staff and space to be used for patient/client care areas," he says.

A holistic approach to campus wellness is not limited to health services. The student health services department at Oregon State works closely with campus housing as well as Greek communities to promote wellness, says Haubenreiser. Health services will also work with local law enforcement during high-risk weekends.

See examples of how universities and colleges are innovating, moving wellness services from an afterthought to an integral part of student life on campus.

Welcoming entrances

The University of Southern California at University Park's Engemann Student Health Center, completed in 2013 for $53 million, treats 90,000 students through an array of services, including primary and acute care; laboratory, radiology and counseling services; an office for wellness and health promotion; a center for women and men; an insurance office; and an immunizations and travel office. Physical therapy, occupational therapy, faculty dental and faculty staff clinics are housed in the facility, as well. Service begins as soon as students enter the bright building, with the lobby desk manned by student workers offering guidance. A digital display above the desk promotes services, hours of operation and special events on campus. An open staircase and intricate chandelier add ambience to the space as well.

Architect: HKS Architects, Inc. (San Diego) Contractor: Hathaway Dinwiddie (San Francisco)

The Geisinger-Susquehanna Health Center at Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania underwent a $3.1 million renovation in 2010, with the 16,271-square-foot space expanding its hours, operations, team of practitioners and services to students. The facility acts as both clinic and student health center, granting students access to a wide array of medical services as well as a fitness trainer, chef and a selection of health-focused presentations. Its classic brick exterior and curving entranceways create a welcoming atmosphere for visitors before they even walk into the building. Besides Susquehanna students, the center serves members of the greater Selinsgrove community, as the clinic is a partnership between Susquehanna and Geisinger Medical Center. …

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