by Hannah Langley ’21
The Health and Counseling Centers, located in Lower Bedford Hall, are provided by the school and students can rely on them for various incidents and services. These services are all included in the cost of tuition, meaning general appointments, whether for medical reasons or counseling, are at no additional cost to the student. Because these appointments are cost effective and easily accessible to students, Catherine Kelleher, RN, Director of Health Services and Dr. Rosemary Mugan PsyD, Director of Personal Counseling Center, have explained and expanded upon information students should know so they can remain healthy and happy during their time at PC.
Why do more students seem to not take advantage of the health staff at PC? While talking to some students, a recurring idea that the health center is ineffective and unhelpful kept coming up. To address this, Kelleher answered, “College students’ schedules are crazy. It can be hard to keep up with both the schoolwork and staying healthy.” She explained how getting sick, especially during freshman year, is extremely common and expected.
She also explained why it is sometimes hard to diagnose certain illnesses, saying, “The average cold is 12 days, and the average cough is three weeks. A high percentage of students will also get mono by the time they leave. If we can help it, it’s better not to treat with antibiotics if the symptoms initially look like something that will get better in time.”
Another frequent comment among students was that they were not sure exactly how the Health Center handles laboratory tests and other tests, such as X-rays and STD screenings. “If a student has a lab order from a primary care physician, they can come to Health Services,” Kelleher explained. However, Kelleher expands, “Should a student need lab work, off-campus X-rays, ER visits, or a referral to a Specialist their medical insurance will be charged.” Despite this extra fee, though, the Health Center does work in partnership with a Providence taxi service and will provide a voucher for any off-campus treatment needed, such as for physical therapy appointments or X-rays.
For students concerned about STD screening and testing, Kelleher assured that such tests are done confidentially. She also mentioned that testing and screening for STDs can even be kept confidential with the front desk when making an appointment and be disclosed during the appointment to the health care provider.
In cases of sexual assault, Kelleher said, “I think if someone comes here first, it’s easier to facilitate the incident.” In the case of female sexual assault, Kelleher highly recommends going to Women and Infants (WAI), which can be found in the same complex as Rhode Island Hospital, and recommends males go to Rhode Island Hospital. “We have to fill out a report in cases of sexual assault or any violent act,” Kelleher explained, “but a name is never given under the Clery Act and Title IX.”
“Ultimately, who the student goes to first is up to the them,” Kelleher said. “They can go to the dean or counseling first, but I recommend an STD screening for any student sexually assaulted.”
The Personal Counseling Center is also a helpful, yet underutilized, option for students. Mugan mentioned some of the most common reasons students come to the Counseling Center, which include adjustment issues, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and grief. Generally, students can get an appointment within a week or so after calling, or can be sooner in urgent cases. “Counseling sessions are typically between 45-50 minutes,” Mugan explained, “and are confidential within the limits of the law and professional ethics, [which] includes what is said… [and] even attendance.” Mugan mentioned that students typically attend six to seven sessions, however, these are “based on each individual student’s needs.”
Mugan also talked about how the Counseling Center works throughout the campus community, saying, “We do quite a bit of prevention and outreach programming with other organizations on campus.” Mugan addressed the issue with students not wanting to come into the Counseling Center, saying, “Sometimes students will say that they don’t want to come in because they wonder if their concerns are not ‘bad enough’ compared to their peers.” Mugan highly recommends making an appointment before the situation becomes too stressful, though, saying, “We encourage students to make an appointment at any point of their college career… even before something turns into a crisis in hopes that we can help maximize self-care and coping skills.”
In regards to both the Health and Personal Counseling Center students can easily make appointments by either calling or walking in, and appointments are available from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday with no additional charge for students. In cases of emergency, the school provides after hour services Monday through Friday and 24 hour EMT availability on the weekends. Students can contact the Health Center by calling (401)-865-2422 and the Personal Counseling Center by calling (401)-865-2343.