Since Dillard University’s reopening on the Gentilly campus, the Health Services Department is experiencing many challenges to bring back quality health care to students. After Hurricane Katrina wrecked the Gulf Coast, the health-care systems that served New Orleans and the surrounding areas are still fighting to get back on their feet. Katrina damaged more than a dozen hospitals and relocated thousands of private physicians. Now a year has past and health care remains scarce.
Adrienne Gill, the university nurse, is concerned towards the lack of health facilities in New Orleans. “My biggest concern right now is that it is a problem. I wish there were ways to make healthcare in New Orleans better, but they are doing the best they can,” Gill said.
According to Gill, New Orleans has developed quality centers such The Touro Infirmary Hospital, The Alton Ochsner Foundation Hospital and The Tulane University Hospital downtown. However, they are not to their full capacity. “The biggest impact right now is the nurse impact and the physician impact. A lot of people haven’t returned to the city so that’s where our problem stands. However, I hope to see the facilities get back up and running to its best capacity” said Gill.
When Dillard held residency in the Hilton Hotel downtown, they had to start finding other resources due to Nurse Gill’s absence and not having the Health Facilities building available.
“The best thing about Dillard University was how it was able to bounce back. They were able to seek out other resources from the LSU Hospital for emergent care, The Tulane University Hospital downtown and The Tulane University Student Health Center uptown, where the students were able to receive quality care. Even in my absence, healthcare still continued by Dillard seeking out resources,” said Gill.
Since Nurse Gill’s return on campus, the Health Services Department is going through some adversities during the rebuilding. “One of the major challenges Health Services have had is locale. I don’t like students not knowing where I am. That is my biggest impact right now because I am used to being accessible to the students. I know that Dillard is working really hard to get me back in my building so students can know where I am,” said Gill.
Gill also expressed that another problem due to Katrina’s ravage was the lost of student records. According to Nurse Gill, the lost of records has been one of the most unfortunate events. “It is important to have student health records, so we have been asking students to give us a copy of their records so that we can keep them on file. As far as the seniors from 2006, this was a stop because we don’t have the files, so they wouldn’t be able to retrieve their records to send to their graduate schools.”
Gill also suggests how if a student didn’t have any records and doesn’t know what vaccinations he or she has taken, to check with her and not take unnecessary shots.
Health Service’s lack of supplies and resources is another disadvantage. In the past, students were able to see a physician in the nurse’s office but now that service is at a halt. “My physicians are not here, my administrative assistant isn’t here, and my counselors aren’t here, so basically it is just me right now. Students were used to walking over to the nurse’s office for physicians. On the other hand, the best part is that I have been able to call resources to help me and Tulane has stepped up to the plate. The Tulane uptown and downtown facilities have helped [Dillard] to where students can still get quality care.”
Even though Health Services is making a great effort in bringing quality healthcare, some students are having feeble thoughts on how health services will handle emergencies and visits to a physician.
Ann Warsame, a senior social work major, has a questionable outlook on health services tactics towards handling student’s needs. “I would really hate to get sick now that I am back on campus, because I don’t know where I would be taken if I was extremely ill,” said Warsame. According to Gill, there are places students will be taken even with the closure of most hospitals. If it is out of my services to treat a student then we would have to transport them to a facility. As far as hospitals, I try to get them to the ones that are most accessible. It used to be Methodist Hospital, However since Methodist is closed, right now the closest is Turoe Hospital.
Dr. Freddye Hill, Vice President of Campus Life, gives her assertion on the procedure for transporting students to see a physician. According to Dr. Hill Students who need to see a primary care physician at Tulane University Health Center, has to be authorized by Nurse Gill. Students can go to the Elks Place location which is closer to Dillard or the uptown location.
“We advise students to go to the Elks Place location because it closer and it saves more time. Once the student is given an appointment by Nurse Gill, she also will arrange for the shuttle service to pick up the student and take the student to the Tulane University Center. The shuttle will wait for the student and then take the student back to campus. If the student wanted to go to the Tulane university health center without a referral from nurse gill, he or she will pay a $30 dollar fee. If the student if referred by Nurse Gill then the university assumes the cost for the services provided. As for the old plan, students will have to pay for prescriptions and appliances such as crutches,” said Hill.
Once the Health Services building is functional, Nurse Gill has many projects in mind as far as promoting health care around campus. According to Gill an email blast will be sent advertising its opening but services will still be limited due to the staffing impact. However, the nursing and emergent care will still be available.
Gill also hopes to promote better health awareness through a new organization called the student advisory committee. “These students will mostly be responsible for getting the campaign out about health awareness, so I’m putting it back in the student’s hands because they know what the issues are on campus and I feel they can do a lot more peer education and focus on more of what’s going on and let me be a resource for them. I’m also hoping that they will partner with other campuses so it can be more than a on- campus education. Overall Health Services will be up and running and we will do the best we can for our students needs,” said Gill.