New Health Center for Students Expands Outreach

by Ariel Carr '99

Student Health Services has initiated a new program of student outreach and moved from the Oberlin Clinic to its own building on West Lorain Street.

"We believe that health education and services must start with the student, and we're here to respond to student needs," says Lori Morgan Flood, the MEd health education/wellness coordinator who arrived at Oberlin in September. Another newcomer is Laura Hieronymus, AN, ANP, the director and nurse practitioner who leads the staff of 14.

Among the new programs introduced this year are meditation workshops, stress-management counseling, an eating-disorder screening day with Counseling Center staff, CPR training for students, and confidential peer-to-peer HIV testing and support. There's also an on-site pharmacy for primary care, and care packages with medications for flu, colds, and wounds are delivered to student's OCMR boxes. With an increasing number of students now devising their own vegan or vegetarian diets, advice about good meal planning is offered through the nutritionist at Campus Dining Services.

The new Wellness Center, located in Wilder, houses general wellness resources-pamphlets, videos, and handouts-and is moving in the direction of a "virtual wellness center." The student staff also offers support and education for students who want more information about the effects of smoking, alcohol, and other drug use, supplementing the Counseling Center's programs.

Student Health Services has been working diligently to understand and meet student needs and to encourage students to become more directly involved. Currently, there is a Peer Health Education Project under way whereby students undergo ten hours of training to become peer health educators. The peer educators will conduct dorm presentations and one-on-one consultations with fellow students to determine if a health problem could be managed through self care, or if an appointment at the Center or the Oberlin Clinic is necessary.

Continuous student input has also become an integral part of the Student Health Program. Visitors are asked to fill out a brief survey rating their satisfaction with the care they received. These exit surveys are reviewed every month so the staff can be sure they are focusing upon student needs.

Under the direction of Joe DiChristina, associate dean of Student Life, Oberlin, along with many other private colleges, is moving toward recognition of the needs of the "whole student" and an overall healthier campus culture.