Given the recent outbreak of hand foot and mouth disease, many students have been spending more time than usual in the health center. If you were one of the survivors you may have noticed some changes in the health center.
One of the largest changes was the hiring of the new Director of Health Services, Ms. Parker. She has been working in healthcare for over 20 years. She is a Nurse-practitioner and sees patients. In her role as Director, she oversees day-to-day operations, monitors lab results, and deals with other administrative tasks. Ms. Parker has worked in many capacities in the emergency departments of several New Jersey hospitals as well as in the pharmaceutical industry. She worked in college health for a number of years, and before coming to Blair worked as the Associate Director of Health at Kean University.
I asked Ms. Parker a few questions:
AC: Given the recent outbreak of hand foot and mouth disease can you give us a medical description of what it is and how to avoid it and other diseases?
Ms. Parker: [Hand, foot, and mouth disease] is transmitted through close contact with people… living in [a boarding school] fostered the [spread] of these diseases… and it’s really important for you to wash your hands to protect yourself.
AC: I have noticed some new changes in the health center. Can you tell us about them?
Ms. Parker: We painted, and as you can see we have rearranged some furniture. We are working as a team and we have also hired several new staff members.
AC: Apart from these changes to the look of the health center, are there any structural changes?
Ms. Parker: There are not really any structural changes. I am here Monday through Friday and anyone can see me as long I am not in a meeting. All students have access to nurses and they can schedule consultations as needed. Additionally, Dr. Merkle is here Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Another practitioner who does Women’s Health is here, usually once a month.
AC: Do you see any changes occurring in the future in relation to the health center?
Ms. Parker: Well that really depends upon the school’s strategic plan and where they see the health center in that. I really don’t have details about that right now.
AC: Are there any other things that you want students to know so that they can better use the health center as a resource?
Ms. Parker: All the nurses are great resources, even for consultations. Students can see us for various things including questions about nutrition, referrals in relation to mental health and any other resources.
What I have taken from meeting with Ms. Parker is that the Health Center is a valuable resource that students can use. Any questions can be answered by the nurses and requests can be referred to outside resources as needed. Students should go to the health center with any questions about health concerns or issues they have, and y’all should probably also wash your hands.