Student Health Services promotes clinic

By Elizabeth zinchuk

Student Health Services is trying to promote their additional role of helping faculty, and not just students.

In January, Student Health Services opened a Faculty and Staff Convenient Care Clinic with hope of providing accessible, quick care to faculty and staff in order to make it possible for them to go back to work the same day. The clinic is working alongside a new employee wellness initiative called “WELLSIU” put forth by Chancellor Rita Cheng this summer and continuing through its first fall semester.

Ted Grace, director of Student Health Services, said this semester his office has tried to market the Faculty Convenient Care and get the word out. He said after last semester, many faculty and staff still did not know about it and there was not a large turnout.


Grace said the marketing efforts have included setting up a webpage, and setting up information tables and handing out flyers at faculty and staff events and programs. He said mass e-mails, magnets, and mail would continue to be sent out with information about the Faculty and Staff Convenient Care Clinic.

“We want to make sure the faculty and staff know about this,” Grace said. “It emerged from the idea that maybe we can make it easier for people to be seen quickly if they don’t have something real serious and maybe they could even return to work that day.”

While faculty and staff members have been trickling in the clinic to use its services, Grace said he hopes to increase the numbers.

“We haven’t begun to saturate our capacity with this,” Grace said. “It’s not been overwhelmingly busy at all.”

He said the marketing efforts will help with that.

“I have a feeling it will catch on,” Grace said. “A lot of people have told me they have never heard about it and it seems to be well accepted once they do hear about it.”

Right now, Grace said the clinic has been used for student overflow, because of the lack of faculty and staff appointments. With the new clinic, he said student wait time to be seen has not and will not be increased because of the available capacity Student Health Services has to accommodate both groups efficiently.


“We hired an extra provider for this clinic, but we don’t want the extra staff sitting around since there is always an abundance of student appointments,” Grace said. “It doesn’t in any means interfere with access for the students, that’s still our number one mission.”

Beyond the convenient care services, Grace said faculty and staff could use ancillary services such as physical therapy, lab work, and X-rays.

Last semester, Grace said the goal was to get the clinic up and running and hoped the word would get out by word of mouth.

But he did not want to take business away from other community medical facilities.

“We are always sensitive to the fact that we don’t want to compete with community professionals, and we don’t want to take business away from them,” Grace said.

Grace said the Faculty and Staff Convenient Care Clinic is not here to replace faculty and staff’s primary care physicians, but to provide reachable, nearby convenience.

“We have a number of staff that don’t live locally and live in various small communities around southern Illinois,” Grace said. “Surprisingly, with 130 employees, I have very few of them who live in the city of Carbondale.”

Grace said if faculty or staff members needed to be seen by a medical professional and had a commute that went outside of Carbondale, then their only option is often to take a whole day off of work.

“It’s just not feasible,” Grace said. “We’ve had cases where someone has had a relatively minor issue that we can get them in and out and back work.”

Despite the obvious convenience the clinic provides for those whose primary physicians are further away, Grace said any faculty or staff member could benefit from the quick care offered.

“Even if they live in the country, they still have pretty long commutes sometimes,” Grace said. “Anyone can use it.”

Grace said faculty or staff members have to pay a copay at the clinic, but the rest is billed to whatever insurance carrier they have. The pharmacy, on the other hand, does not accept outside insurance, he said, but is still an economical option.

“It’s still economical to go to the pharmacy and lot of the faculty and staff will use it just because many generic prescriptions are under $10,” Grace said. “They’ll often see it as more convenient if it isn’t more than their copay to just pay cash and get the prescription here.”

Grace said thus far, about a third of the faculty have used the pharmacy inside of the Student Health Services building instead of an outside pharmacy.

“We have had some very satisfied, gratified individuals and have gotten some positive comments back saying that it’s working the way we wanted it to,” Grace said. “We’ve had people call, come in, get lab work done, and be out with a prescription with a hour.”

Bob Melton, a building service sub-foreman with the physical plant services department, said he thinks the Faculty and Staff Convenient Care Clinic is a useful option for university employees, but would not be a good option for him because of its limited hours that run from eight a.m. to four-thirty p.m.

“My shift runs from four until midnight, it wouldn’t be convenient for me to go,” Melton said. “It wouldn’t work with my schedule.”

Melton said he thinks the clinic would be used more if it offered more expansive services, such as emergency care.

Wellness Coalition 

Grace said the Faculty and Staff Convenient Care Clinic was started in part due to the WELLSIU, an initiative being carried out by the Chancellor’s Office and various other campus departments.

“We’re the clinical side, and they address more of the wellness side through the wellness coalition,” Grace said. “It has really taken off.”

Grace said students benefit from faculty well being as well as the faculty themselves.

“If you can take an environment and make it healthier, everyone benefits,” Grace said. “If students see a professor they admire utilizing our services they are more inclined to pay attention.”

Sally Wright, associate director of programs at the Recreation Center, said her program is putting on a variety of participation and educational programs for WELLSIU to improve the health and wellness of staff and faculty. The eight dimensions this initiative covers is: spiritual, intellectual, occupational, environmental, social, emotional, and financial according to WELLSIU webpage.

Such events have included “Wellness Wednesdays” that take place at noon Wednesdays, Chancellor walks, and bringing in the National Geographic 2012 Adventurer of the Year to do presentations.

As far as why the initiative started, Wright says a healthy workforce is a happier workforce, and SIU is just one of places of work that have enacted such employee initiatives or programs.

“There is a lot of data out there that a healthy workforce is a more productive workforce, a more happy workforce,” Wright said. “There’s fewer sick days taken, there’s more energy, more productivity, so the benefits come back to the organization who support a healthy workforce.”

Wright says she thinks participation will continue to show good prospects.

“Thus far, we’ve had good participation,” Wright said. “We’ve had a really good turnout for the Weight Watchers program we just started and that’s one example.”