Health Services overhaul will be delayed

Story by Destinee Marking, Staff writer 

It will now be 2018 before university officials announce plans for the future of Health Services.

Don Robertson, vice president of Student Affairs, said the university hoped to have a decision made regarding Health Services by the end of the current semester, but a new request for proposal must be sent out.

“The initial RPF went out, but we learned there were questions raised and some things were not as clear as we thought they were,” Robertson said.

Because of concerns, Robertson said the university have taken these questions regarding clarification of what the university is asking for into consideration and has also consulted the American College Health Association, so revisions can be made.

Among the revisions being made, Robertson said clarifications that the university is looking for is a vendor to come to campus and run the facility at their cost. Also being clarified, is the minimum expectations the university has, such as maintaining the current Health Services’ hours.

Once the new RFP is sent out, Robertson said vendors will have one month to respond, and then responses will be evaluated. As of now, he said the goal is for this process to be completed in January.

Robertson said changes may include extended service hours and the termination of free services, which he said he hopes will not affect students utilizing the services.

“Insurance would cover it, but there is that cost, so we certainly hope that does not prevent someone from getting medical care they need,” Robertson said.

One question asked in the RFP, Robertson said, is how the vendor will deal with insurance and what fee structure would be put in place for when insurance does not cover something. Another question is in regards to how the vendor will deal with uninsured individuals.

Robertson said the amount individuals will be charged depends on which vendor comes to campus.

Though there is no requirement that state universities must have health services located on campus, Robertson said it is an important part of taking care of students.

“If you’re going to be student-oriented and student-focused, you need one to meet the needs of students,” Robertson said.

If a vendor is able to provide the minimum services the university is asking for, Robertson said current Health Services will be outsourced, but if not, the situation will be reevaluated.

Removing free health services from campus has some students concerned.

Emma Webber, sophomore from Murphysboro, Illinois, said she has never had to visit Health Services, but is thankful for the option of free services on campus.

“I probably would go somewhere else if it wasn’t free,” Webber said. “If you’re going to pay, I would go to my doctor.”

Webber said she knows people who have utilized Health Services, and they comment on how easy it currently is to visit when they feel like they cannot make it anywhere else. She said she thinks this will change if Health Services is outsourced.

Rowan Bell, senior from Westcliffe, Colorado, said he just recently paid Health Services a visit and was pleased with how he was treated.

“I was in there just the other day,” Bell said. “I went in there for a strep test, and they made sure I got the antibiotics I needed.”

If Health Services is outsourced, Bell said whether he continues to use the on-campus services or if he goes somewhere else would depend on the cost difference.

Bell said if free services are taken away, students like him who may only work 20 hours per week will be affected.

“It would take a dig at my budget when I’m putting myself through school and working all the time to do so,” Bell said.

The university hopes to begin evaluating potential vendors early next year.