Been to the health center recently?

Jason Hersey/Sun Star Reporter
March 5, 2013

Your student health center fee, which approximately 4,500 students pay per school year, covers many preventative care services, including STD screening and treatment at UAF’s Student Health and Counseling Center.

Located above the police station across from the Wood Center’s bus stop, the staff of physicians, assistants, nurses and counselors see some 3,500 medical and 1,600 counseling visits each year with room for more.

The center offers a lot of services including doctor’s visits, STD screening, pregnancy tests, Flu shots, contraception, counseling services and Vitamin D testing. UAF campus students taking at least nine credits are required to pay the $105 health center fee as well as carry health insurance. However insurance is not necessary for most services offered at the center.

According to health center Director Dr. BJ Aldrich, the fee allows students preventative care for ailments of all sorts and treatment for chronic problems such as asthma or mental illnesses. The health center caters mainly to students’ everyday physical and mental health needs. Although the $105 does not cover the medicine and lab costs, the fee is a good deal for the amount of services offered, Aldrich said.

Aldrich also negotiated the student health insurance plan available to UAF students. The Affordable Care Act, according to Aldrich, has raised health insurance premiums for most plans, including UAF’s, because insurance providers are required to offer more preventative services than before. UAF’s plan emphasizes preventative care, and it features no deductibles plus full coverage for services received at the health center.

Counseling services, supervised by licensed Psychologist and Associate Director of Counseling Tony Rousmaniere, follows a short-term counseling model allowing students to come in for up to six free sessions per semester. Three student trainees are on staff and earn Ph.D practicum hours while working there.

Everyday issues students face ranging from homesickness or roommate problems to more serious depression, drug and alcohol dependency or suicide counseling are open for confidential discussion with the counselors, according to Aldrich.

The reason for many visits to the health center is STDs. STD cases are low on campus, although Chlamydia is the most infected STD among students. Chlamydia is also the most infected STD in Alaska, according to Aldrich. Aldrich said there are about 20 Chlamydia cases per year on campus, though there has never been a positive case for HIV or Syphilis in her thirteen years at the center. Besides HIV and Syphilis, Gonorrhea, herpes and genital warts are the rarest STDs on campus. Condoms in the center’s lobby and the availability of the Plan B morning after pill show the importance the health center places on contraception.

Aldrich emphasized the benefits and availability of preventative physical and mental health care that the center offers. Student health center fees fund 70 percent of the center’s functions, so it caters to students’ needs. “They’re paying for us,” Aldrich said. “Might as well use us.”

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