Health Center Hones in on Changes in Hours


The University’s decision to end the round-the-clock care at the Health Center has sparked student complaints across campus and provided a visible issue for the candidates running for FUSA president.

Effective March 14, the day students return from spring break, the University Health Center will cut its hours to Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 12 noon to 8 p.m.

What do you think about the change in the Health Center hours?


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Both FUSA Presidential candidates, Eddie Muniz ‘11 and Kyle Duggan ‘11, agreed that handling student reaction to this issue should be a top priority.

“At first, I was shocked because I didn’t really understand why the University administration decided to do that,” said Muniz ‘11. “I think that a health center that is open 24/7 is a good thing about the University and something that a lot of students looked at when touring the campus. I think the hours being cut is definitely a drawback.”

Duggan said, “The student voice is definitely calling out for a return to the original 24/7 policy. The Health Center is definitely a resource that needs to be there 24/7 and students have been very vocal about that.”

On Feb. 11, the University sent out an electronic announcement to the University community announcing the change. Student reaction was swift.

After hearing of this change, Lauren Davidow ’11 said, “The University should be embarrassed by these hours.”

Other students agreed.

“I think it’s a bit ridiculous that they are cutting out night hours since that’s when a lot of issues seem to be and I think now a lot of students aren’t going to be able to get the help they need,” said Christina Dunne ’13.

What Residence Life Had to Say

Many of the student RA’s find the decision unsettling as well.

“I don’t think the University did a good job advertising at all and I think the University should have consulted the greater student body rather than just making the decision and they should put a lot more thought into it and how it will effect kids’ safety,” said Davidow ’11, a sophomore RA.

Keri Horan ’11, a freshman RA, agreed.

“As an RA, I think it’s a very silly idea and there’s very little incentive for students to call 2241 to get their friends help and I think now that it’s going to be a guaranteed hospital transport, no one’s going to do it,” said Horan. “As an RA, I’m really really concerned.”

Karen Donoghue, director of Residence Life, said that as with any new change there will be questions and therefore has scheduled a specific meeting with the RA’s for March 23rd to help answer concerns.

“With this change, I believe all of our students in need will receive better care after hours in the hospital than they would have in the health center because of the access to doctors in the emergency room,” said Donoghue.

“At the end of the day, I hope that all students would help their friends in need, regardless if they were going to the health center or to the hospital. Fear of ‘getting in trouble’ should never cross someone’s mind if there is a health concern.”

Renewing Licenses

Judith Weindling, director of the Student Health Center, said that the University made their decision with students’ best interest in mind.

“The decision was made with the safety and well-being of our students at the forefront,” said Weindling.

According to the announcement, “Fairfield University’s Health Center currently holds an Infirmary License with the State of Connecticut Department of Public Health. This license allows the University to provide overnight accommodations of limited duration to students who are receiving short-term care, treatment and/or observation for non-emergency needs.”

As the University approaches the renewal of its license, as they do every two years,  it “took the opportunity to examine our current 24/7 schedule in relation to emergency care trends of our student population,” according to the announcement.

The University sought to answer the questions of what was the best standard of care available to a student in an emergency care situation and how did the Health Center’s hours of operation factor into this standard.

Dr. Michael Lee, the University medical director, as well as health care professionals both within and outside the University community, were asked to examine best practices and approaches of comparable institutions.

Emergency Care Concerns

The investigation lead the University to the conclusion that in an emergency care situation, the best care available to a student-patient (indeed, for any patient) is in a hospital.

According to the University announcement Lee said that “in a hospital, a student who needs emergency care will have access to equipment and to personnel with diverse skill sets that are not available in a traditional health center such as Fairfield University’s.”

But what if students don’t need emergency care? What if they have a more minor illness that doesn’t require a hospital visit, with ambulance bills and emergency room costs?

“I think it’s ridiculous because maybe people just need standard medical attention and don’t need to go to the hospital,” said Rory O’Connor ’12.

Other students agreed.

“I’ve gotten sick before 8 o’clock and to think I’d have to be sent to the hospital for something simple the health center could take care of is ridiculous,” said Anthony Raymond ’12.

If money is the issue, students’ concerns are heightened.

“If the school’s going to be putting it’s money into something, it should be health,” said Steve Cironella ’11.

While the University has made the decision to end its 24-hour Health Center access as it states in the University announcement as being similar to most college campuses, there are universities often compared to Fairfield that have a different approach.

Boston College, a Jesuit College Fairfield is often compared to, has a 24-hour inpatient unit for inpatient care and for urgent evaluations. Villanova, another comparative school, is also open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

In addition to concern for the change itself, students are frustrated with the lack of communication from the University about the decision.

“There are a lot of students who don’t know of the change and are unaware,” said Duggan.

7 Responses to Health Center Hones in on Changes in Hours

  1. Nancy Malinowski says:

    As a parent, one of the most important things that I considered before sending my kids to Fairfield was what kind of health care was available on campus. I am appalled that this statemetn was made:

    “Judith Weindling, director of the Student Health Center, agrees that the University made their decision with student’s best interest in mind.

    “The decision was made with the safety and well-being of our students at the forefront,” said Weindling.”

    That statement cannot be true at all, if it were, why did they ever have 24 hour care in the first place? It’s all about money and a very disappointing and upsetting decision by the university.

  2. A parent says:

    As a parent and a physician I find it hard to conclude that the curtailment of student clinic hours is anything but a cost-saving move. The largely irrelevant argument that the best place to obtain emergency care for a true emergency (a serious and acute threat to health) is from an emergency room is obvious, applies at all times of the day and night, and has been the preferred approach to care for decades. The relevant question here is what is the best way in the context of a university with 4000 students on campus to deal with the predominant category of “off hours “ acute medical problems that are not perceived as serious enough to motivate the student to incur the cost, inconvenience, and loss of time associated with using an emergency room miles from campus? The true answer to this requires some transparent and evidence-based analysis.

    The standard definition of quality health care is that it is accessible and timely, safe, effective, efficient, equitable, and patient-centered. Clearly going from to 168 hours per week of access to 76 hours per week, more than a 50% reduction, is almost certainly a manifestation of the control of costs by rationing and cost-shifting. Barriers to care may dissuade students without ready access to cheap transportation from promptly seeking care off campus with the potential that during the delay a bad situation could become worse. As we learned with H1N1 flu, students who are not in an emergent situation sometimes still need prompt attention for both clinical and public health reasons. With the infirmary closed, others with access to a car and desperate for some sort of relief will undoubtedly be tempted to drive while under the influence of various medications that impair driving. The frequency of ill-advised self- or buddy treatment will likely increase as access to care becomes more burdensome. While emergency room care is usually “effective”, some problems are more effectively handled by college health professionals who are familiar with the needs of student, who are less rushed, and who can provide a continuous healing relationship. It remains to be established that diverting students to a high cost emergency room for 92 hours of the week is more cost-effective for the health system than tending to them on campus. Emergency rooms are rarely the recommended place to obtain primary care. Certainly for most instances where care would be sought, diverting students to an offsite emergency room is not an approach that is patient-centered. Outside of the college setting, most patients with the needs in question would be directed to a more cost-effective urgent care clinic that would be comparable to the student health service.

    Considering the impact of this decision on thousands of students who paid for a 168 hours per week of access to clinic care and who are now having it curtailed during the school year, an evidence-based, transparent explanation of this new policy would only seem just. University administrators have to make tradeoffs in tight economic times, but there are many items that could be put on the table for debate that are less relevant to the physical and mental well-being of students (and the peace of mind of their parents). Like a previous respondent, I too took notice of clinic access hours during college visits and definitely downgraded a school when it looked like it was cutting corners in that respect.

    • Melanie says:

      Let ue be reminded that freshman and sophomores do not have cars on campus and not all upper classman do either. Is the university prepared to have ambulances screeching on campus all night? Of course not, so what will happen? Students WILL NOT GET THE CARE THEY NEED AT NIGHT so the university can save the cost of a nurse’s salary. The first student who suffers an adverse reaction due to the curtailed healthcare will become a public relations and I hope, a financial nightmare for the school when they sue. What is going on over there anymore? New buildings for admin, new day care for staff children and no night time health care for students. Deplorable.

  3. Brian says:

    “At first, I was shocked because I didn’t really understand why the University administration decided to do that,”

    Money, Eddie. Come on. You’re the FUSA president and should know better.

    This University will cut anything to save a buck. It’s a shame. Why don’t they cut stupidity like putting flatscreens all over the place and the moronic new res halls they are building. Maybe students don’t want to pay an absurd amount for room and board and prefer the beach over the moldy, falling apart townhouses that should be torn down – or the cramped apartments?

  4. [...] to last year’s university announcement, as citied in the Mirror, university officials examined what would be the best standard of care for [...]

  5. [...] According to last year’s university announcement, as cited in the Mirror, university officials examined what would be the best standard of care for students in relation to the 24/7 hours of operation. [...]

  6. celulite says:

    The subsequent time I read a blog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as much as this one. I mean, I do know it was my choice to read, however I truly thought youd have something fascinating to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about one thing that you could possibly fix in the event you werent too busy looking for attention.

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