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In a small town like Slippery Rock, there are only so many health facilities in the area, one of them being SRU’s Student Health Center. This space is only for the use of students, making it easier for those on campus to seek medical attention.
The Health Center used to be open 24 hours a day, available for whoever needed assistance.
On Aug. 2, Chief Student Affairs Officer David Wilmes informed SRU stakeholders via email that Student Health Services’ hours of operation were changing to Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., beginning on Aug. 15.
Wilmes explained that the change was a necessity to compensate for the nationwide shortage of nursing professionals.
The email also listed off-campus resources that students can contact after operation hours, including Allegheny Health Network Grove City Hospital’s Emergency Department (20-minute drive or nearly 3-hour walk), Butler Health System Faster Care, Slippery Rock (7-minute drive or 20-minute walk) and Butler Memorial Hospital (28-minute drive or nearly 6-hour walk).
Yet, the Aug. 2 email neglected to inform students if any of the tuition fees would be changing, or if students would get some percentage of their tuition reimbursed.
Students were paying for 24/7 care at their fingertips, and now, that resource is being cut in half.
Some students do not have the privilege of being able to travel off campus whenever they need to. Is the university willing to support students who cannot travel to Butler or Grove City, or will they be left to pay an overpriced ambulance bill?
Every student has a different schedule, and many have a limited amount of free time. With an 8 a.m. to 8 p.m window, students may miss their only opportunity to seek accessible medical attention.
We understand that in case of emergencies, the University Police is still an option. But we’re talking about everything other than that. No one wants to go to the Butler Hospital for a cold.
Aside from students who don’t have off-campus transportation, on-campus residents should have a medical facility available to them at all hours. Just like there are hospitals or urgent care facilities near students’ permanent addresses, they should have access to those same resources.
To be fair, the Health Center has never been equipped the same as a hospital, but more like an urgent care facility. For years, the difference was that the Health Center was open when urgent care wasn’t. Now, they essentially have the same hours of operation.
This issue is part of a bigger, national problem, which is important to keep in mind. It is in no way the Health Center staff’s fault, or anyone’s, really. The change is beyond anyone’s control, but it is certainly inconvenient for students.