Health Center offers free and low-cost services to all enrolled students

Casha Cheema

The average college student is swamped with homework, struggling to work extra hours to pay off that tremendous text-messaging bill, and not too concerned with putting any time, or money aside to focus on their health. But the Saddleback College Health Center is a convenient and affordable alternative to waiting to get an appointment with pricey.

Whether it’s a common cold or strep throat, the Health Center is equipped with the tools and experience to help one receive needed care.

“We really try and do a good job at keeping the students well and well educated,” Monica Nelson, a nurse at the center, said. “Everyone in there looked very comfortable. They do a good job of keeping things confidential and making sure the patients feel secure,” said ASG president, Kalin Kelly, 20, communications.

There are three registered nurses that are available to see patients when the facility is open. They can answer questions, give advice, and refer you to one of their two family practice physicians if needed. The physicians are able to provide diagnoses and fill minor prescriptions, like antibiotics, on site.

“I went in to ask about the blood drive, and the ladies were so nice and friendly. They were good about answering all my questions,” Kelly said.

The Health Center also offers an array of vaccinations, including the Hepatitis B series and flu shot.

There is a fee for vaccinations and lab work, but it is minimal to what one would pay, sometimes even with insurance. For example, the average price for the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccination costs $70 for one without insurance, but the Health Center offers it for $47.

The Health Center will again offer a flu vaccine clinic on Friday from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The fees are $15 for students, $20 for staff. No appointment is necessary.

“We operate very much like an urgent care facility. We do a lot of emergency treatment,” Nelson said.

The center even uses a golf cart as an ambulance to transport students on campus to the Health Center. With an average 70-100 students passing through their doors each day, the center makes weekly calls to the local paramedics.

“The paramedics are so good here. They have never arrived more than 5-10 minutes after calling them,” Nelson said.

The center does not treat chronic illnesses. If a patient comes in with a need not provided, the center will refer him or her to a specialized physician, or to a low cost clinic, if the patient does not have insurance.

Although 70-100 students a day may seem like a lot, there are many Saddleback students not utilizing the services. Every student enrolled in classes pays the $17 health fee, but some aren’t even aware of the Health Center’s existence. “We get more people in the beginning [of the semester], but a lot of students don’t even know we’re here,” Nelson said.

Services are not limited to physical health. The College Mental Health Program offers support for students who may experience difficulty balancing their academic and personal lives. Issues may suddenly arise causing an abnormal stress level. The center provides personal counseling for individuals, couples and families through graduate school interns working under the direct supervision of a psychologist. These services, too, are free to all currently enrolled students.

For a situation where a person requires immediate attention for an extreme personal issue, Saddleback has a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) composed of professional counselors from the Health Center and the Office of Counseling and Special Programs. The CIT counselors are available to assist when a Saddleback College student or staff member experiences an on-campus emergency and is in need of immediate help.

If you have a crisis situation, call the CIT at (949) 582-4606 or (949) 582-4572.

The Health Center is open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. It is located in Room 177 in the Student Services Center. Their telephone number is (949) 582-4606.

“Even if it’s just to answer questions, we’re here,” Nelson said.

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