Students voiced concerns and displeasure to the East Tennessean earlier this semester about their experiences at the University Health Center. However, the center’s leaders are unsure of the validity of these claims.
“From 2015 to now, I’ve kept a log of all [complaints,] and between 2015 to now there’s not many for the amount of days we’ve had,” said Dr. Roslyn Robinson, Executive Director of the University Health Center.
Those comments come as several students came forward detailing exorbitant wait times for appointments, long waiting times when inside and inadequate care when being seen, among other complaints.
“I called the Health Clinic and asked for an appointment and they told me they didn’t have one until the following week,” said Tyler Wicks, a student at ETSU and the Multimedia Editor for the East Tennessean. “I’d requested to get in sooner, but they told me they were full.”
Wicks was not alone in his experience, as ETSU sophomore Audrey Chaffin said when she called looking for an appointment last semester she was unable to get anything soon enough, and was eventually told that the Health Center only had one person available to see patients.
Dr. Robinson said the Health Clinic has four nurses on staff Monday through Friday, two to three nurse practitioners and two patient care representatives who handle check in and check out. Robinson also estimated that the Health Center sees roughly 25-50 patients a day, noting that they are staffed to handle a higher amount should they need to.
Other students detailed what they felt was poor care from the Health Center’s staff.
“I made an appointment with the Student Health Clinic, and they gave a full checkup, but they told me they couldn’t find out what was wrong with me and sent me somewhere else,” said Madalyn Miller.
Miller also said it took roughly a week before she was able to get an appointment.
Both Robinson and Vanessa Smith, the Center Manager, noted that sometimes students call the wrong clinic, and that those other clinics around campus and the surrounding area may have longer wait times to schedule appointments, whereas the University Health Center does not, though statistics on how often this occurs are not available.
“It also has to do with appointment times,” Smith said. “Why couldn’t they be seen? Was it because we didn’t have availability? Or did we not have availability within their time-frame or convenience?”
Another student who was able to get an appointment and spoke on the condition anonymously said they waited upward of one hour to be seen.
Robinson said wait times are usually short, around 5-10 minutes for returning students and around 20-30 minutes for new students who have to fill out paperwork.
“The longest [wait] times are because of paperwork,” Smith said. “There’s a lot of ‘coaching’ we do here because some students have never filed insurance before or filled out these papers before, which is why we ask every new student to come 30 minutes early.”
“I had a great [experience], wait time wasn’t long and my nurse was amazing,” said Sarah Curtis, a former student who visited the clinic in early 2018.
“I’m not going to say that [the student experiences] did or did not happen, but what we’ve done for this flu season was [make] significant improvements from where we’ve been,” Robinson said. “[We’ve added] a new center manager, a higher commitment level from our team and the outreach. We’re trying to let people know we’re here and what our services are.”