A New Era for Health Services

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As anyone who has suffered through a cold during finals knows, it’s not easy being sick at college. Of course, the staff at Wellesley’s Health Services has to handle more than colds during the course of any given semester—routine gynecological care, accidents, mental-health concerns, and more are addressed on a regular basis. This semester, the College is making significant changes to the department to help better meet the needs of students across the full spectrum of health care.

“Just as higher education has evolved rapidly, so has the practice of medicine,” President Paula Johnson says. “We wanted to ensure our students received the highest quality care and the best patient experience possible.” To that end, the College is partnering with Newton-Wellesley Medical Group, the physician group of Newton-Wellesley Hospital, to run Health Services on campus, effective Nov. 1. The transition began in September, however, shortly after the new collaboration was announced.

One of the first changes to be made? Expanded hours and appointment times. “Students are taking advantage of the expanded hours, and the Health Services team is now seeing 25 students a day on average, which is a significant increase,” Johnson says. In addition to these services, the College was also able to offer immediate access to Newton-Wellesley’s sports medicine program for varsity student-athletes, as well as increased access to specialized care for all students via Newton-Wellesley and its affiliated Partners HealthCare network. As of Nov. 1, students also have more options for after-hours care via Newton-Wellesley’s after-hours nurse practitioner on-call service and increased staffing at Health Services.

Any significant change such as this means significant shifts in staffing as well, but it was staffing changes already underway, along with student feedback, that prompted the move, according to Johnson. Current members of the Health Services staff were offered positions with Newton-Wellesley; some have chosen to leave the College, while others are staying through the transition. Jennifer Schwartz, a board certified family medicine physician who specializes in sports medicine and eating disorders, is taking over as the new medical director of health services and sports medicine. Plans are already in place to continue close coordination between Health Services and the Stone Center Counseling Service, as well as the health education and nutrition team at the Office of Student Wellness.

“This innovative collaboration marks an exciting new era for Health Services,” Johnson says. “We are so pleased to have Newton-Wellesley providing our students with the high-quality health care they deserve.”

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