For student care, doctors on call and off campus

This year, when Goshen College students are under the weather, they might have to brave the weather to get medical attention.

Beginning this semester, the Wellness and Health Center will no longer provide medical care for students on campus. Goshen College has signed a contract with Goshen Family Physicians, outsourcing student medical needs to the clinic, which is 1.2 miles east of the college.

Goshen Family Physicians will not service walk-ins, but, according to Bill Born, dean of students, the clinic has verbally agreed to provide care on the day it is requested. “We leave same-day appointment spaces open so that people who do call in that day with urgent things can be seen that day,” said Carla Mishler, a doctor with the clinic.

Kelly Frey, a senior nursing major, believes that “the Wellness Center was nice; it was easy to do walk-in appointments.” On the other hand, Frey says, “the new clinic is an effective use of community.”

Goshen Family Physicians will now provide all the medical care that the Wellness Center did, including immunization shots, medical prescriptions and check-ups. The office can also perform minor surgeries, electrocardiograms, ultrasounds, major laceration repairs and strep and blood tests. This level of care was not available previously to students.

“These procedures will be cheaper than students could get them at the hospital,” Born said.

Tim Thut, a doctor at Goshen Family Physicians, a Goshen College alumnus and the coordinator for the new contract, said the clinic has lowered student medical costs. “The college used to charge $60 co-pay for physicals,” said Thut. “We’ve lowered the co-pay to $20 for all procedures.”

Previously, the college allowed students to charge the co-pay to their tuition, a convenience not available at the new clinic. “It wouldn’t make sense for our bill to show up on their tuition,” said Thut.

Daniel Martin, a junior communication major, is unsure about the change. “As a college student, having to pay $20 every time you think you might have the flu or an eye infection is not exactly appealing to me,” he said.

The clinic also requires insurance information and medical history before administering treatment.

Born voiced concerns about the new facility, saying that students who are unfamiliar with the area or who don’t have transportation may have difficulty getting there. “But in the end,” he said, “students help each other.”

The clinic has already treated several students this year, and the administration has not had any complaints.

According to Born, Goshen College began seeking a replacement when Diane White, the previous nurse practitioner, left the Wellness Center in May of 2011. After the college failed to find qualified staff, the administration began entertaining the possibility of out-of-house care.

Another factor in the decision was the Wellness Center’s out-of-date record-keeping system, which was using paper and manila folders instead of electronic data entry. “There are some real questions of efficiency,” Born said.

Given a typical flow of six to nine students a day, he said, it would be inefficient to spend time and money on updating the system. “It was a logical switch financially,” Born said. “The college is not necessarily saving money or spending more money.”

Chris Kauffman, a quarter-time nurse at the college, is aiding in the clinic transfer, but she will leave once the transition is completed. Char Hostetler, the director of counseling, will continue to provide those services to students in the Wellness Center.

Six of the eight providers at Goshen Family Physicians are Goshen College alumni. “The philosophy is important to us,” Born said. “They’ve been on SST. They know what we’re about.”

While Born is confident the college will be well served by Goshen Family Physicians, the contract is only for one year. The college will review its arrangement with the clinic in December.

Goshen Family Physicians is located at 1811 Charlton Court in Goshen. To schedule an appointment, call (574)534-8200.

–By Phil Weaver-Stoesz

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Written by Sara Alvarez

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