All I wanted to do the weekend of Sept. 29 was get my finger x-rayed.
Injuries happen, a fact I learned all too well this past Saturday morning when I broke my finger. Granted a simple finger injury usually doesn’t warrant much treatment, but a break is a break and needs medical attention. Unfortunately, if you are injured past 11:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, you are stuck with either paying steep Emergency Room prices or waiting until Monday morning to get an examination.
Students at USD have free examinations over at the clinic in Sanford Hospital. Usually, the system works out well. An appointment can either be scheduled in advance, or they find a way to fit students in for walk-ins for anything from getting a flu shot to getting a doctor to examine a rash. Mondays through Fridays, the clinic is open from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., so typically treatment for something sudden can happen rather rapidly.
The weekends, however, cast a dark shadow over Student Health Services. The hours on Saturday are only 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., and Sunday there is nothing. A 45-hour time window opens up where student options are limited to an ER or a phone number that lets you talk to a nurse, raising questions about the effectiveness of Student Health as a whole.
The argument can be made that serious issues that happen on the weekend can still be handled within the ER. Keeping the clinic open is therefore unnecessary and students can learn to deal with minor health issues for a couple of days. But that begs the question of where a line is drawn between a serious and a minor health issue.
For instance, if a student sprains an ankle or has a strange reaction to something on the weekend, are they to consider it a serious enough issue to fork out hundreds of dollars in order to get immediate treatment? The alternative is that they are forced to handle the treatment on their own until Monday morning at the earliest. During that time, the issue could get worse or simply make the weekend unenjoyable.
Regardless of the seriousness of an issue, all health issues students have should be handled within a timely manner, something that isn’t always possible under the current system. If students had a place to bring their health concerns to on Sundays, even if it was available for only a couple of hours, it would make a huge
Either having an on-campus location available or encouraging Sanford Hospitals to increase clinic hours on the weekends would greatly benefit Student Health. Having a 45 hour period of time where there is nothing available to handle sudden health concerns should not be acceptable. Sure, the ER works if you are truly desperate, but most issues don’t require taking quite so drastic of an action — especially when the cost is considered.
As a student who broke a bone that Saturday morning at about 11:45 a.m., I can’t help but see the flaws in the system. Student health should be taken with a bit more seriousness to prevent students from feeling isolated from their local healthcare providers.
Reach columnist Sarah Mackeben at Sarah.Mackeben@coyotes.usd.edu