Centering on Student Health

March 31, 2002

 

A new student health center will open in August to improve health-care services for students and to make treatment more accessible. Plans for the center were approved by Duke's trustees in February. The 13,000-square-foot facility will be located in the lower level of the orange zone in Duke Clinics, near West Campus.

"The new center will be much more convenient for students," says William Christmas, physician and director of Duke's Student Health Service. "Not only will it be closer to most of the dorms than existing facilities, it also will house the majority of our services under one roof."

The center will include a full clinic with fourteen exam rooms, a small pharmacy, areas for health educators and dietitians, an immunization and allergy-shot clinic, a small laboratory staffed by a medical technologist, and administrative offices. It will cost roughly $2.7 million. Since services will be consolidated and the administration centralized, annual operating expenses will be about the same or slightly lower than current expenses, Christmas says.

The new center is part of a reorganization of Student Health Service that also involves the closing of the Student Health Clinic at the Marshall I. Pickens Building on Erwin Road, the Student Infirmary in the purple zone of Duke Clinics, and the Healthy Devil office in West Campus residential quad House O. The center will provide the services traditionally offered by those facilities, except for the infirmary's twenty-four-hour bed service. After-hours assistance will be available through a phone service staffed by registered nurses.

Students who call the service will receive an assessment, related advice and instructions on whether to visit the center in the morning, or to seek more immediate care at Duke Hospital's Emergency Department. Duke physicians will be on call to advise the nurses.

Administrators decided to discontinue the infirmary's overnight bed service after conducting a bed census last fall, Christmas says. The review found that of the unit's six beds, an average of only 1.1 beds were occupied per night. Money freed up eliminating the overnight bed service will provide for improved health education and wellness programs and for the hiring of a half-time dietitian to support the university's Eating and Body Image Concern Team.

The center, which will have an entrance off Flowers Drive, will occupy a portion of the space in Duke Clinics that became vacant when the pediatric specialty clinics moved to Duke Children's Hospital. In all, the Student Health Service stands to gain more than 2,000 square feet as a result of the reorganization.