New and old students alike will have to become more proactive in taking care of their own health concerns this semester as the infirmary will no longer be available twenty-four hours a day.

The Health Center recently limited their hours due to both the loss of Dr. James Heffern, the former medical director, and their issues with staffing the infirmary overnight. The Health Center’s new hours are from Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and they are closed Sundays.

Many students will have to fend for themselves during the after-hours, but in the long run the entire campus will benefit from the new equipment and services that the health center will be able to provide.

Dr. John C. Rigilano is the health center’s primary physician, he worked over the summer and is working a few extra hours this semester, but his own schedule has not changed too much.

Dr. Rigilano comments on the new hours, “It is allowing us to be more efficient during the day and I don’t think any student has had to wait more than twenty minutes to see me.”

The health center is depending on students to become more independent and mature by scheduling their own appointments and working a visit into their schedule of classes and extracurricular activities.

“Our role is to be here when you can’t get to your family doctor,” states Dr. Rigilano, who encourages students to call their general practitioner after hours.

The health center was actually losing a lot of financial resources by staffing at night. Also, the health center’s overnight activity from Spring of 2004 to Spring of 2008 only made up three percent of the total visits for those semesters. Staffing with a small percentage of visits is impractical, with many of those visits being alcohol-related instances that usually needed to be addressed in the emergency room.

Dr. Rigilano is optimistic that the over-night cases will be addressed quicker by going directly to the emergency room instead of stopping by the infirmary first.

However, Millersville represents one school of three in the PASSHE system that does not offer health care around the clock.

Although because the Health Center is saving money, Dr. Rigilano aspires to provide oral contraceptives to students without insurance, having, “well-women” exams including papsmears. They have also been given a grant to perform tests for Sexually Transmitted Infections such as chlamydia and gonorrhea.

Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Aminta Breaux wants to make sure that the students know their opinions are being considered and states, “One possibility would be to continue the reduction of hours on a permanent basis. Another option would be to increase fees to move back to the twenty-four seven operation.”

Dr. Rigilano continues, “The system we used to have was for a five year-old, who would run to mommy when they got sick; this system is more real world.”

The Health Center is also considering having a web-based appointments system so students could schedule appointments online.

Not every student is unconcerned about the changing hours of the Health Center, junior Brian Vanderveer comments, “I think that on a university campus there shouldn’t be excuses for the Health Center to be under-staffed and with our growing student body it’s absolutely necessary to have things be the way they were previously.”

In order to encourage students to come to the Health Center and to inform them of the new hours, nurse Chris Rooney and Gail Treiers set up booths at several campus dining facilities to advertise the new hours.

Scully attended several of the events with Health Services to help advertise the new hours of operation at the health center. Photo couresty of Health Services.
Scully attended several of the events with Health Services to help advertise the new hours of operation at the health center. Photo courtesy of Health Services.

At the events, nurses gave out coupons for First Aid kits and other items. Also, students were asked to guess the number of silver and gold condoms in a jar.

“Our purpose in being there was to reinforce our new hours and the appointments, some people are offended by it but it was a way for people to come and talk to us,” states Rooney.

There were 261 condoms in the jar, and three students guessed the exact number correctly Amanda Pinson, Liz Kaniuka, and Chris Teter.

Some of the other winners were Marco Merino, Eric Balak, Britni Gentzler, Heidi Gamache, Zachary Schulz and Joe Dooling. Jack’s Restaurant, Dominoes Pizza, Two Cousin’s, the Sugarbowl, and the George Street Café all donated gift certificates for the winners.

This semester will be an obvious test as to what the student’s reactions will be to the reduced hours for the Health Center, but if all goes correctly the University will be more efficient in the long run.