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University Health Services hours are not doing enough for students

Last year on a Saturday, sophomore psychology and English double major Sophie Shippe, who had been feeling sick for a while, had the sneaking suspicion she had pneumonia. “I couldn’t go to University Health Services [because it was closed], but it didn’t feel bad enough to go to the emergency room, which is expensive anyway,” she said. She went to her general practitioner on Monday, where she found out she did have pneumonia.

Any student who has come down with a bad cold or just felt sick on the weekend has dealt with UHS’s ill-designed hours (pun fully intended). The hours, as noted on the UHS website, are “normal business hours.” However, sickness and injury do not seem to understand the concept of “normal business hours.”

The alternative for students who find themselves feeling sick on the weekends, (which happens to be the first frequently asked question on the UHS website), is for students to call campus police who will contact the on-campus physician and set up a call, or call an ambulance.

Albeit, this does provide a semi-viable option for students who are struggling during off-hours, it seems counter-intuitive and unnecessarily complicated considering UMBC prides itself on being a health-conscious campus.

Sophomore global studies major Elizabeth Eakes had a similar experience to Sophie last year when she needed medication to treat what she originally thought was a severe cold. “Last year in the fall, I had a bad cough and chest pain, and I remember I called my mom and she told me to go to UHS but it wasn’t open that day because it was a weekend. It turned out I had bronchitis and I wasn’t able to go off campus to see a doctor because at that time I didn’t have a car on campus.”

For students who don’t have cars, the inflexible hours are frustrating. “I have to rely on a friend, and a lot of the time I don’t have to go to the emergency room, and I would prefer to go on campus. Their hours should go a little later, even if they only had one person there,” said Sophie.

Once Elizabeth brought her car on campus, she had to drive a friend to urgent care off-campus to get medication for a UTI. “It took up to five hours of our Sunday because UHS wasn’t open,” said Elizabeth. “When students need medical care or supplies on the weekend, they rely on having a car or a friend with a car, or they have to wait until the weekdays when it’s often harder to find time during the day for an appointment.”

If UMBC is really serious about student health on campus, they would make a real attempt at extending hours for students and providing physicians for students on the weekends. Students deserve availability for the weekends and after-hours. Just because UHS isn’t open doesn’t mean students aren’t getting sick.

UHS was not available for immediate contact for this article.