On Monday, March 2, the Indiana University Northwest College of Health and Human Services (CHHS), in cooperation with Methodist Hospitals, will celebrate an achievement 10 years in the making: the opening of the IU Northwest Health and Wellness Center. The student clinic, which is located in Room 1027 of the Dunes Medical/Professional Building, provides basic healthcare services to university faculty, staff and students at low cost.
The invitation-only Grand Opening, which is open to the campus community, invited guests and the media, will take place in the Dunes atrium beginning at 4:30 p.m. on March 2. Following the ribbon-cutting and remarks by IU Northwest and Methodist Hospitals officials, guests and media will be invited to tour the clinic.
Speakers for the event include: IU Northwest Chancellor Bruce Bergland; Methodist Hospitals CEO Ian McFadden; CHHS Dean Patrick Bankston; Dr. Michael A. McGee, M.D., MPH, Chief and Medical Director of Emergency Services for Methodist Hospitals, who is also medical director for the wellness center; IU Northwest Dean of Nursing Linda Rooda; and School of Nursing faculty member and nurse practitioner Marci Mulcahey, who is nurse manager for the wellness center.
The Health and Wellness Center opened on a limited basis on Jan. 12, at the start of Spring Semester 2009. It has already experienced significant use by students who have been treated or examined for a variety of ailments. Staffed by family and adult nurse practitioners, and with the guidance and assistance of Dr. McGee, the Center provides routine and acute care for IU Northwest students, faculty and staff.
“We are extremely gratified to have developed these partnerships between the IU School of Medicine, IU Northwest and the new College of Health and Human Services, and Methodist Hospitals, which have resulted in us being able to establish this campus wellness center,” said Bankston, who is also the assistant dean and director of the IU School of Medicine — Northwest, which is a partner with IU Northwest in the health and human services college. “We believe -- and we have evidence from our limited opening in January to back this up — that this clinic will serve our students in ways that are absolutely necessary for their health.”
Methodist Hospitals CEO Ian McFadden hailed the wellness center as the latest good result of a longstanding partnership between the hospital and IU Northwest.
“Methodist Hospitals has had a close relationship with IU Northwest for many years,” McFadden said. “We serve as a clinical site for the School of Nursing and the Radiology and Health and Information Technology programs, just to name a few. We have been committed to the development of this clinic since the beginning. We are honored to be a part of its beginning and will continue to support it.”
IU Northwest Lecturer of Nursing and Adult Nurse Practitioner Marci Mulcahey is the nurse manager of the clinic and one of three nurse practitioners on its staff. Lecturers of Nursing and Family Nurse Practitioners Melanie Samardzija and Jo Newman also see patients, and the clinic has a medical assistant.
The cost of an office visit is $20, and a physical exam costs $35. Patients may also take a TB skin test for $5. Other tests and immunizations are available, with advanced notice, for the cost of the test or vaccine. Some medications, such as antibiotics, may also be provided at cost.
“If I do a rapid strep test, for example, whatever our cost is for that strep test is what the patients will pay,” Mulcahey explained. “If they need antibiotics, or other medications we have on hand, they will pay for that, at cost, in addition to the $20 (office visit). Also, when writing prescriptions, we try to write for low-cost generic brands whenever possible.”
Mulcahey said the clinic does not stock any narcotics, however, and that nurse practitioners will not write prescriptions for them.
The Center also provides blood pressure screening and monitoring, along with birth control counseling and prescriptions.
The Center is not able to process insurance information, but patients are provided with Superbills that they may submit to their own insurance providers for reimbursement. The Center’s hours of operation for the spring semester are: Mondays from 7:30 a.m. until 11 a.m.; Tuesdays from 1:30 p.m. until 4 p.m.; Wednesdays from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m.; and Thursdays from 1:30 p.m. until 4 p.m.
The IU Northwest Health and Wellness Center has been in the planning stages for more than 10 years. The Dunes Medical/Professional Building was originally designed to include a nurse-managed clinic. Much of the Center’s office furniture, including exam tables, was donated to the clinic by Methodist Hospitals.
In 2008, a student survey found that nearly two-thirds of IU Northwest students do not have health insurance, a fact that makes the availability of quality, affordable healthcare all the more crucial for the university campus, Bankston said. Not only is the clinic affordable, he added, but its accessibility on campus may prevent students from having to take a day off from school in order to seek medical care.
“Our goal is to keep them in class, and to have a facility that promotes the health and well-being of our faculty and staff, as well,” Bankston said. “We’d like to expand the clinic’s hours of operation in the next academic year, and we’re looking for additional funding for that.”
The Center’s healthcare services are only open to IU Northwest students, faculty and staff, but Mulcahey said she hopes to obtain grant funding that would allow the clinic to host community-outreach programs on public health issues such as obesity.
The March 2 grand-opening event is open to IU Northwest students, faculty and staff, along with invited guests. The media is welcome to take this opportunity to tour the facility and interview IU Northwest and Methodist officials about this important collaborative effort to provide accessible, affordable healthcare to the university community.
For more information about the IU Northwest Health and Wellness Center Grand Opening on March 2, contact Christopher Sheid in the IU Northwest Office of Marketing and Communications at (219) 980-6802, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. To contact the Center, call (219) 980-7250.