by Christina Russell
Never before has there been a better excuse to get sick. With a spacious site, air conditioning and as many free condoms and cough drops as your heart could possibly desire, you will be sharing cups with your friends and eating things off the ground like you were in first grade again, eager to grace the Health Center with your presence and experience its amenities. “The nurses are nice,” said junior John Klein, “and I mean, it smells new.” Since Aug. 21, the first day of first-year orientation, Whitman’s new Health Center has been up and running, looking to serve students at their new location at 11 Merriam St., on the corner of Merriam St. and Boyer Ave.
The Health Center was moved to accommodate the new studio art facility, which is due to break ground in the near future. “Oh, we were always interested,” said Ellen Collette, the Director of the Student Health on campus, in regard to whether they had asked for a new center. “Consider it a secondary benefit of planning for the new studio art center.” Whitman did more than a little relocating in the process. The Tekisuijuku Japanese Interest House was moved to 528 Washington St., near Lyman House, and the Music Box, a house popular for music majors because of its proximity to the practice rooms, was demolished in the name of studio art.
The change that Collette is most excited about is that the new Health Center is adjoined to the counseling center. “Better proximity, better care,” she said. “There is a seamless flow between the two departments.” Other than the counseling/health merge, new features include a far more spacious facility that enables the health center—for the first time—to comply with federal privacy regulations and offer air conditioning. Returning students may remember that in the former Health Center, patient rooms were in a highly trafficked area; this is no longer the case. The ample square footage of the new facility also allows patients to have their very own room. No longer will students have to share their patient’s quarters with three or four other ill individuals. “The sheets aren’t that comfortable, but it’s relaxing in there, really low key,” said first-year Lara Spengler. “They get you a glass of water and everything.” “The old center was more like a barrack,” said Collette.
Additionally, the Center will be offering special Women’s Clinics on Wednesday nights, which start on Sept. 27. The special evening time slot is intended to provide additional anonymity to students who want to schedule an appointment with a nurse practitioner during a time when they can guarantee classes won’t interfere. Men are allowed to use the Center at this time too; the women’s time was established and named as such “because we noticed more of an interest and need,” said Collette.
Students are welcome to stop by to utilize the health facilities 24 hours a day. A physician is still available between 8 and 10 a.m. five days a week as well as a psychiatrist three hours a week. Students can walk in during these hours, though it is encouraged to make an appointment ahead of time if you have a tight schedule. To make an appointment, call extension number 5295. After all, according to Collette, “this is the Cadillac of health centers.”