By Emma Buchman
The Washington College Health Center, located next to Queen Anne’s dorm, is available to all students. Whether it be physical, mental, or emotional, the Health Center is staffed with trained professionals to help you bounce back. However, there have been several instances where the Health Center failed to help students, causing distrust in the Center’s abilities and, in some cases, a worsening of the student’s condition.
While I have personally had good experiences with the Health Center, stories of misdiagnoses have come back to me at an alarming rate. So many people have had so many bad experiences with the Health Center that the most reliable medical center is the UMD Shore Medical center located behind Minta Martin. While conveniently located, it is more expensive and not as simple an option for those whose medical concerns are non-emergencies.
Even still, some have been forced to take that extra step. Sophomore Tracy Kamen has been to the Health Center numerous times because she gets sick often. “The last time I was at the Health Center, I got in and out in two hours. All I needed was a new prescription and it took them two hours.”
Sophomore Rachel Johnson had a similar experience. She said, “I went in on a Wednesday afternoon at 4 p.m., and I wasn’t feeling well. They told me to come back the next morning. They were half an hour late with my appointment, and then they saw me for, like, two minutes.”
What is truly concerning is the fact that Health Center employees refute things that they have previously said to students. Kamen was told by one employee that she had strep throat. However, after her medication failing to work properly she returned home to be seen by her primary care physician. She was diagnosed with mono, a test that the Health Center refused to give her. Kamen said, “They told me I had strep and gave me antibiotics. A month later I came back and was told by the same person that I didn’t have strep and that they never told me that I had strep.”
Meanwhile, Johnson developed pneumonia and had to be treated at home because she wasn’t helped properly at the Health Center: “They told me to just take Nyquil and Ibuprofen, and I should be fine… I went home over the weekend and I developed an upper-respiratory infection, and a few days later I was diagnosed with pneumonia. The fact is that I went to go see the Health Center several times and I developed pneumonia because they wouldn’t take me seriously.”
These experiences have left different residual feelings. When asked if going to the Health Center made her feel uncomfortable, Johnson said no; whereas Kamen said, “Yes, 100 percent. I feel like I’m getting judged every time I go in there… My parents have recommended that I get a doctor in the Chestertown area so that I don’t have to go to the Health Center. They make experiences very unpleasant.”
I do not wish to cast any blame on specific people, nor am I saying that Health Center employees are bad at their jobs. The fact remains that students are losing faith in the Health Center’s ability to give them proper attention and help them to treat their ailments. The Health Center and its employees need to work towards treating patients like adults and helping them to the best of their abilities.
The Health Center does excel in some areas. Johnson said, “The one thing I will say about the Health Center is that the mental health department is really good. I’ve had good experiences with them.”
I agree. I have been a client of their Counseling Center for both myself and my friends. They treat me with respect every time that I go there and have given me techniques that have greatly reduced stress brought on by OCD.
My experience with the other half of the Health Center was also great. I was seen almost right away and was treated very nicely. The physician assistant that helped me sent me to the hospital to get blood work done and called me on the next business day to talk about the results. Overall, it was an easy and smooth process.
The Health Center is full of wonderful people who genuinely care about students’ health, but so many instances of students receiving less-than-average medical care needs to be addressed. The Health Center needs to know these sentiments in order to improve as a unit and become a better resource for students.