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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Health center: In need of publicity for good services

Published: October 10, 2014
Section: Opinions

The common thing between Antarctica and the Brandeis University Health Center is that most of the first-year class have not been to either. I do not have many issues with the Health Center, where I’ve been twice. Once was when they strong-armed me into handing in a Tuberculosis form in order to add and drop classes the first week. The second time was to paint a more accurate picture, and fill in the details on the Health Center for this opinion article. I do not really have a problem with the offerings of the Center, but with the accessibility and awareness of the establishment to the students.

The Health Center is, in fact, a lovely place. With warm lighting, a charming waiting area littered in classic brochures and a fishbowl-style glass container in the corner storing the complimentary condoms, it also boasts a staff that seems almost unjustly happy.

I sat down with the utterly kind Diana Denning, who for my first-year peers and others, is the Nurse Manager/Administrative Director of the Center. As a member of Brandeis Students for NARAL and FMLA, and with an interest in going further with women’s health in and after college, I did intend to ask more specific questions in this field, but she began by giving me a larger overview of services. She told me about how this year, as of Aug. 15, each student enrolled either three-quarter- or full-time in degree-granting programs will have access to health services. These range in scope and depth, though it is important to note that they are not a licensed pharmacy and are limited in many areas of more specific measures of care, but with a focus on referrals and intent to best care possible.

She told me that the Health Center does offer Plan B and Ella, both emergency contraception, to students, and will do so only to the intended user of the product. This will be a free service this year, but in future years, it may move back to $15 per service. They can prescribe birth control, will perform STD testing, but may send a patient close-by for a more invasive procedure, which includes IUD insertion. This is not to say they are not qualified to perform these services, it is merely in the interest of highest quality of care and sending students off-campus for these procedures can be the more preferred option.

While there are areas of note that can be pushed for improvement by different groups on-campus, this is a great baseline to begin on, with healthcare professionals that care deeply for and about the services they are providing.

Throughout our talk, it became increasingly frustrating that these services, while not sexy or revolutionary, are not more easily accessible. This could be improved in Orientation by way of a formal presentation during the Health and Wellness or Sexual Services presentations, and otherwise could be provided a space that allows the students of Brandeis to feel as though they know exactly what they are offered.

As if to poetically tie my piece together, when asking a friend in my dorm to help edit my article and she found out the topic was the school’s Health Center, she looked up at me in surprise, “We have a Health Center? Where is it? Why are you writing about it, is something wrong?” The answers are yes, by the Public Safety building, and because what’s wrong is exactly my necessity in answering such important questions. It does not matter what is offered or how we can work to improve offerings, if we don’t work on what we all have access to today.