College could add health clinic

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Administrators would like to incorporate nursing and medical assisting programs.

By Zachary-Taylor Wright

zwright9@student.alamo.edu

 The college president and other administrators are working with health agencies to develop a clinic at this college in the nursing and allied health complex.

In an interview with The Ranger Oct. 7, President Robert Vela said administrators at this college are working with several health systems to construct a survey for students to provide an understanding of what services students want included.

“I mean, what are the students looking for, so we can try to tailor something if one of those entities would be interested in partnering with us,” Vela said.

Vela charged Robyn Stassen, coordinator of student success, with starting a “needs assessment” to survey students on what services they would like in a medical clinic.

Stassen said administrators have spoken with University Health Systems and Baptist Health Systems, but administrators are approaching all established health systems.

Vela said a clinic would help in college administrators’ efforts to meet anti-poverty goals.

Vela said Dr. Lisa Alcorta, vice president of student success, is in charge of the efforts.

In an interview Sept. 29, Alcorta said administrators need to determine what agency to work with, how a student’s insurance would be addressed and if the space would be rented by an agency.

Alcorta said development of the clinic is in the preliminary stages, so administrators do not have any details.

Vernell Walker, dean of professional and technical education, said the proposed clinic “more than likely” will be more comprehensive than the health center offered at this college before 2011. 

She said the proposed clinic could offer services such as cholesterol and diabetes testing; inoculations, such as meningitis and flu vaccines; headache relief; first aid; and physician referrals.

Walker said the previous health center was like having a school nurse in grade school.

“I really don’t know all the reasons why it was closing, but it was really like having a school nurse, like you have a school nurse at the elementary school,” Walker said. “That’s kind of what we had. But this is going to be a little more than that.”

Walker said college administrators have spoken with representatives from University Health Systems by phone about the college’s demographics and plan to have a campus visit.

She said the agency wanted to know the student enrollment, number of employees and about the surrounding community.

In an interview with The Ranger Sept. 26, Mike Legg, director of enterprise risk management, said St. Philip’s College is the only one of the Alamo Colleges to maintain a health center.

Brenda Major, licensed vocational nurse at St. Philip’s College’s Southwest Campus health center, said St. Philip’s College’s health centers open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Major said the centers dress wounds and provide over-the-counter medication, administer first-aid care and offer physician referrals for students and employees.

She said the health centers keep brochures for students that list places such as Planned Parenthood and University Health Systems clinics, where students can go for medical care without having medical insurance.

Major said veterans and military dependents can go to the military base, but many students don’t have those resources.

When asked how the health centers benefit students at St. Philip’s College, Major said the centers are important because students and employees have a place to go if they are injured, have a headache or have stomach cramps.

Major said students are able to come to the health center when they feel ill and get medication and lie down for 30 minutes or an hour without being counted absent. She said the students are able to continue classes and avoid missing material.

Major said the health center provides an important service to faculty who teach evening classes, offering them a place to receive assistance without leaving campus.

She said the health centers help students continue their education because students don’t need to leave campus to retrieve medication for a headache or to dress a minor cut, meaning the students are more likely to attend class.

Major detailed scenarios she has seen in the health center, saying women have come to the center to breastfeed, students have come to administer insulin injections and an instructor was recently provided crutches after a knee replacement.

“Whatever they need, we try to provide,” Major said.

Major said the health centers have biohazard waste containers and contracted service to dispose of the biohazardous waste, such as needles from insulin injections.

In an interview with The Ranger July 20, Erick Sanchez, former floor technician with janirotrial service McLemore Building Maintenance Inc. and a dental assistant freshman, said custodians at this college are required to remove needles from trash bins in bathroom stalls with thin, plastic gloves.

When asked why the health center at this college was closed in 2011, Vela said the center’s services had expanded to a point that required medical oversite.

He said budget cuts meant the college could not afford to expand to a medical clinic, so the health center was closed.

“What happened was it started off as a clinic that was not medical per se, but it started to morph into that,” Vela said. “Well, anytime you get a medical clinic somewhere, you need to get medical oversite, which traditionally means you need to have a medical doctor overseeing the site. So it started to morph into something we weren’t ready for. We didn’t have the right liability. We didn’t have the right medical oversight so we didn’t want to put the college or the students at risk.”

According to the budget for fiscal year 2017, St. Philip’s College health center salaries are budgeted for $95,695, with Jane Feathers, college health center coordinator and registered nurse, earning $54,764 and Major earning $40,931.

In an interview with The Ranger Sept. 26, Erin Cusack, director of public affairs for Texas Nursing Practitioners, said most school clinics are run by nurse practitioners. She said the nurse practitioners require a delegation agreement with a physician, but the physician would never need to physically be on the college campus.

Cusack said diagnoses and prescriptions would need to be approved by the physician, but nurse practitioners are capable of assessing injury and referring to a physician.

In reference to college administrators finding a physician to oversee a nurse practitioner, Cusack said “if there is a will, there is a way” because a delegation agreement could be made with a physician at a local hospital.

The hospital would have a financial incentive because students would be referred to that facility and the physicians who work there.

Vela said the medical clinic will incorporate the nursing program in the function of the clinic.

“That’s one of the things why it’s a little complex because it’s got an academic component to it where nursing students and medical assisting students can do their rotations there and help with the clinic,” Vela said.

Stassen said discussions about the medical clinic are too preliminary to detail how the nursing program will be incorporated but confirmed there are plans to incorporate the nursing program.

“If we do have a clinic on campus, we’re hoping to work with the nursing program so that nursing students can get their contact hours … I know they need to do clinical rotations and hands-on skill learning,” Stassen said.

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