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The Whitworthian

The Student News Site of Whitworth University

The Whitworthian

The Student News Site of Whitworth University

The Whitworthian

Health Center reinvested, student fee to subsidize cost

Last fall, a task force was created to handle financial concerns and its relation to the Whitworth University mission. The list of programs that needed re-budgeting was extensive, and the campus Health Center was one of the primary concerns for students. After months of evaluating options, it was decided to not outsource health care services and to subsidize Health Center services with a student fee.

“[The Health Center is] funded substantially out of tuition,” said Gerry Gemmill, vice president of finance and administration. “We had many possible cost-saving ideas.”

Faculty, staff and students were included in the deliberation process. The task force considered a variety of options. One idea that was seriously considered was outsourcing the Health Center’s services.

“Outsourcing means we partner with a third party, like an outside clinic, to perform services,” said Kristiana Holmes, the director of the Health Center.

The task force met with organizations and had them provide proposals of the services they could offer the clinic as well as the cost of those services, said Dick Mandeville, vice president for student life. Rockwood Clinic and Providence Hospital were two of the external sources that were presented.

“We discussed how important it is for the Health Center to be mission compatible with the university,” Mandeville said.

The task force wanted the opinions of the students, Gemmill said. Health Advocate representatives and members of student leadership expressed their opinions, asked questions and shared concerns with the task force, he said.

Mandeville and Holmes also discussed the options they were considering with ASWU.

“The default discussion of every decision we made was what is best for the students,” Gemmill said. “The decision that was for the best interest for the students is to reinvest with our center.”

Mandeville, Holmes and Gemmill said the support and input from students on this matter was helpful and valuable. The amount of student involvement was appreciated.

“Not every student comes [to the Health Center], but those who do, we just develop relationships with,” Holmes said. “It’s not just their health, we make a broader connection.”

The task forced decided to keep the Health Center Whitworth-owned and operated by Whitworth staff. The trade-off is students will be required to pay a fee in order to subsidize the costs for the Health Center. The amount of this fee and what it will cover is still being discussed.

“We need to sort out the details like what are we covering here and what are the students getting?” Holmes said. “We want to make sure we’re providing those services.”

The goal is to get the service fee as low as possible, Gemmill said.

Currently, students pay a fee for tests and services provided, many of which are covered by insurance or paid out-of-pocket, Holmes said. New services that are being looked into are X-rays and lab work.

Services offered by external sources are being looked into as well and the potential for partnering is still an option, Gemmill said.

“I think one of the things that is positive that has come from that is it has given us a push to see what else we can be doing,” Holmes said.

Other considerations are extending the hours of the Health Center, allowing evening and weekend access, which could be done by arranging a contract with other facilities, and talking to a local medical residency program about having physicians on campus, Mandeville said.

Services provided by third-party partners would be covered by the fee as well as services done on campus. The student fee will apply to full-time and part-time undergraduate students, Holmes said.

Once the fee amount is decided on, it will be included in student’s billing statement for next year. A letter will be sent explaining what the service fee is and what services are being provided for the fee. The hope is to have the service fee amount set before tuition statement letters get sent, Gemmill said.

“After all we’ve been through, we’re going to end up with a Health Center on campus, staff we know serve our mission and enhanced services,” Mandeville said. “It will turn out better for students in the end.”

Contact Bekah Bresee at [email protected]

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Health Center reinvested, student fee to subsidize cost