Health Center braces itself for busy winter season

Cheryl McEvoy

The temperature outside may feel sub-zero, but students’ temperatures are rising, as Old Man Winter has brought an influx of illness to Villanova. For students feeling under the weather, the Student Health Center offers a variety of treatments and services around the clock. The center is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. While doctors and nurse practitioners are not always available, attentive nurses are constantly on-call. To relieve symptoms and facilitate recovery, the health center maintains an inventory of over-the-counter and prescription medications. While the cough drops are free, some over-the-counter medicines and all prescriptions are billed to the patient’s Villanova account. The health center also offers diagnostic testing, such as throat cultures for strep throat. Results are usually returned within a couple days, at which time a staff member determines the proper course of treatment. When students are severely ill, they may be admitted to the health center for observation and TLC.The rooms are equipped with two beds, and students can lie down for a few hours or stay overnight under the nurses’ watchful eyes.”It’s not that great, but it’s like sleeping in your room,” Chu says.Junior Liz McElwee values the staff’s effort to be as accommodating as possible during her bout of appendicitis last year. “I stayed overnight, and they checked on me a lot and made sure I had a way to get to the ER,” she says. When a student is ill, rest is often the only way to recover, but missing class may have a negative effect on grades. Illness can be particularly detrimental to freshmen, who must abide by a strict attendance policy. The health center recognizes the academic effects of sickness, providing excuse notes for freshmen to avoid automatic failure due to absence.”You usually get an appointment and tell them what’s wrong and that you missed class,” Chu says. While the health center can be a vital and convenient resource during an illness, little more can be done than combating cold symptoms with saline spray and cough drops.”The doctors are really nice, and they listen to what you say,” McElwee says, but she feels treatment is often just “a bag of goodies.”Although some students have uneventful visits due to frustrating, untreatable colds and viruses, freshman Kristina Grappo values the staff’s attentiveness.”All the nurses seem really caring, and they call [after an appointment] to see how I’m doing,” Grappo says.While Grappo said that the center generally attends to walk-ins, most students claim that appointments can spare students their time.” I’ve never set up an appointment, but they usually stress that,” Waugh says. “Depending on the time I go, it can be a long wait.”Whether a student is suffering from a case of the sniffles or a migraine-inducing paper, McElwee offers her prognosis: “Make an appointment.”