University ditches virtual doctors

Primary Care will provide health services on campus beginning June 1. (Nick Bohannon/TheNews)

Daniella Tebib

News Editor

Murray State awarded a contract to Primary Care Medical Center after concerns from students, faculty and staff were voiced.

The new contract will go into effect on June 1. Health services will be located on the first floor of Wells Hall.

President Bob Jackson said finding a health services provider that meets the needs of students, faculty and staff is a priority of the University.

“In evaluating medical providers who submitted their materials for consideration, it was apparent that Primary Care Medical Center provides the necessary services, administered by an on-site physician, advanced nurse practitioner or other medical staff who bring a great deal of expertise, attention and care for patients,” Jackson said.

Shawn Touney, director of communication, said when health services officially switches to Primary Care, a physician and staff will be on site to assist the needs of students, faculty and staff. The provider will also offer after-hours access to a physician via telephone and a smartphone app.

Touney also said when utilizing health services, patients can use their health insurance. For those who don’t have insurance or do not wish to use their insurance, Primary Care will provide services based on a pay-per-visit model.

Patients in need of further additional assistance will have the option to visit Primary Care’s alternate location.

“Patients who visit the on-campus location and are in need of additional treatment or consultation will receive priority service at the in-town 12th Street location by presenting their Murray State RacerCard ID,” Touney said.

The Primary Care location on campus will be open from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday when class is in session. It will also be open during the summer from 9 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday.

Some students are happy with this change because they didn’t like the virtual doctor or flat fee provided by Fast Pace Connect Urgent Care, the University’s previous provider.

“I’m very excited to see this change happening on campus,” Merrick Johnson, freshman from Carlisle, Kentucky, said. “Having an actual doctor present in the room over a doctor being there from a video conference call makes all the difference. It makes me feel like I’m getting my money’s worth when it comes to medical care.”

When utilizing Fast Pace, students, faculty and staff were required to pay a flat fee of $85. This fee could be covered by the patients’ insurance or paid out-of-pocket for those without insurance or high deductibles. However, if patients required other services in the lab such as x-rays, additional costs were added.

J.T. Payne, previous Student Government Association president and current student regent, worked with the student senate to pass a resolution expressing its dissatisfaction with Fast Pace.

“I appreciate Dr. Jackson and the entire University administration for making health services a top priority, especially after the expressed concern of the student senate earlier this year,” Payne said. “I was proud to work closely with Dr. Jackson in bringing a solution where students, faculty and staff are given access to health care from in-person medical professionals, no matter their economic status. This is definitely a step in the right direction for on-campus health care without creating further hindrance to the overall University budget.”

Current SGA President Trey Book said he is excited about the new health services, but wants to continue improving on-campus services throughout his term.

“Since the University first made the switch to outsourcing our health services it has been a concern for students,” Book said. “The administration has heard these concerns and is working to fix them, and I believe this switch is a step in the right direction. As Dr. Jackson says, we are going to try new things, and some of them may not work. If they don’t we will fix it and never do it again. It’s all about learning and finding out what truly is right for students. I will continue to fight for health care that students want and students deserve.”

Robert Hughes, managing partner of Primary Care, said they are excited about working with Murray State.

“We are proud to be chosen to provide them with health care services for their students, faculty and staff both on campus and at Primary Care,” Hughes said.

While Primary Care is transitioning in as the new health services provider, students, faculty and staff can access the provider by visiting the Wells Hall location to use complimentary transportation to their off-campus location.