Area Colleges Focus on Keeping Students Healthy

By Cheryl Clemmons

Today’s college students face pressing physical and mental health issues, and student health centers locally and nationally are now expanding to offer more inclusive services.

According to national student health organizations such as the American College Health Association and the Southern College Health Association, students need access to on-campus services that include mental health counseling, virtual appointments, and pharmacy services to deal with important issues including depression, stress, fear of mass shootings and inflation, all of which are prevalent today.

Johnson C. Smith

In August, Atrium Health committed $3 million to Johnson C. Smith University as part of the Charlotte Mayor’s Racial Equity Initiative to upgrade the campus student health center which provides care for its more than 1,000 students as well as faculty and staff. New features include access to electronic medical records, health literacy, chronic condition management, connections to off-site advanced care, and the information required to navigate the complexities of the health care system.

“Here at Atrium Health, we fundamentally believe that health, education and access to opportunity are the essential building blocks of a bright future for our community,” said Eugene A. Woods, president, and CEO of Atrium Health. “That’s why we are proud to partner with JCSU to provide top-notch health care to the university’s students, faculty, and staff, as well as invest in a talent pipeline to educate and train students who dream of becoming health care professionals.”

The Atrium Health collaboration is expected to improve access to on-campus health care providers, lab services, chronic condition management, and other services for students, faculty, and staff. Another goal is to enhance health literacy on campus, especially for those students who are living independently for the first time.

“We are so grateful for this generous gift and ongoing support of Atrium Health,” said Clarence D. Armbrister, Johnson C. Smith University president. “Our students depend on the JCSU Health Center for a variety of their health and wellness needs, and they will continue to receive the same excellent service. Because of this partnership, our faculty and staff will now be able to receive limited services at the center.

Atrium Health is investing in a series of enhancements to the facility, including the introduction of electronic medical records – rather than paper – and easy connectivity to advanced care, when needed. All of this is at no cost to the university, helping us keep tuition more affordable for our students.”

The health center is staffed by a nurse practitioner, registered nurse, certified medical assistant, dedicated client lead and center operations manager. JCSU Health Center leader Marian Jones, who holds a doctorate in public health, will remain on staff at the university as director of health and wellness.

Queens University

Queens University celebrate the opening of a newly renovated campus health and wellness center operated by Atrium Health with a ribbon-cuting ceremony in September. Atrium Health will also provide behavioral health and sports medicine to Queens University’s 2,500 students.

“This partnership is a very big deal for the entire Queens community and most importantly, our students,” said Queens University President Dan Lugo. “We know that students flourish in the classroom and in the community when they have access to a comprehensive suite of world-class wellness support resources and health services.

Atrium Health’s partnership and presence on our campus elevate and enhance the services that our students can access on campus and in the Atrium network. It also gives us access to Atrium Health’s full portfolio of expertise in meeting our strategic goal of creating a stronger culture of community wellness and it integrates the full spectrum of our students’ care from physical to behavioral health and sports medicine in state-of-the-art ways that were previously impossible.

Located in a brick house on a tree-lined street, the renovated health center has two exam rooms, a provider office, and an on-site nurse. It offers acute care management, point-of-care testing, virtual care, medical testing and medication dispensing. The sports medicine facility will incorporate Atrium Health athletic trainers, two team physicians, a sports nutritionist, and a physical therapist.

In his speech at the opening ceremony, Ken Haynes, enterprise executive vice president and president of the Greater Charlotte Region for Atrium Health, applauded the university for making a “profound commitment in direct service of their own students so that they can both feel their best and be their best.” He said, “We want to be here for every student on campus so everyone can truly be their best selves.”

Central Piedmont Community College

At Central Piedmont Community College, Kathy Scott Rummage, executive director of communications, said health services have been updated for the current semester because of the change in student needs since the pandemic, especially around mental health.

In June, the college opened the Leon Levine Health Sciences Center in partnership with Atrium Health offering a range of services, includinga virtual service that launched in August. Good health is vital to student success, she said.

“We want to keep the community of more than 40,000 annual students healthy happy, safe, and well,” she continued

More students need services for themselves and their families, especially those who aren’t covered by health insurance and have to use hospital emergency rooms for their health care needs, she said.

“Not having adequate health care on campus is a barrier to many students finishing their programs, especially if they have to pay out of pocket for urgent care or take time off to go to a doctor’s appointment. It really is a vital component of education, she added.