The University Health Services (UHS) is nearing completion of an extensive renovation of its facilities and staff, UHS officials said yesterday.
Construction workers have renovated the 3 East Primary Care Wing and the Medical Records Department and has created the Center for Health Education.
The renovation comes at a time when some doctors have warned of major budget problems at UHS and questioned the the allocation of funds to this particular project. Officials refused yesterday to say how much the project cost.
Dr. David S. Rosenthal, UHS director, said the renovations will greatly improve patient care.
"The purpose of the renovations is to improve service to the University community by providing a pleasant environment and more services," Rosenthal said.
"In the past, things were all mixed up," he said, "[but] with the changes, things will be in the right place."
Members of the 3 East Planning Team, which organized the renovation, said they will be able to offer both faster and better treatment for the Harvard community.
According to Carie M. Ullman, program manager for planning and analysis, the changes will "offer increased access to care based on a newappointment system, as well as an increased ratioof support staff."
Dr. Marie F. Haley, leader of the planningteam, said one of the primary features of therestructured wing will be separate waiting roomsfor patients.
"In the renovated wing, space is designed tobetter facilitate care, and confidentiality willbe better safeguarded," Ullman said.
But some at UHS are concerned about the amountof money that was spent on the project. Two topphysicians--Loring Contant, Jr. and Peter J.Zuromskis '66--left UHS this fall in part becauseof disagreements over how money was beingallocated.
Zuromskis, instructor at Harvard Medical Schooland former director of Urgent Care Services atUHS, said in a telephone interview last night thatalthough certain physical renovations werenecessary, "you could find better things to dowith the money."
"Walk-in clinics and urgent care are moreimportant services to a college student who wantsto rush to UHS in between classes," saidZuromskis.
Zuromskis did not agree with Rosenthal'semphasis on the 3 East appointment system, inwhich each member of the Harvard health plan wouldconsult with a primary care physician rather thanuse walk-in services.
"Dr. Rosenthal is more concerned withmaximizing productivity...but I feel urgent careis more effective in catering to the students,"Zuromskis said.
Numerous doctors at UHS have said over the pastyear that UHS is facing a budgetary crisis.Rosenthal even admitted in a town meeting lastyear that UHS is suffering from monetary problems.
"The renovations are paying for themselves,"Ullman said.
But, Zuromskis said, "that's a little bitsimplistic. The money has to come from somewhere."
Rosenthal launched the planning team in thesummer of 1992, and Harvard approved funding inthe spring of 1993.
The Medical Records Department and theadministrative areas have been operational sinceJanuary, and the 3 East Primary Care Wing will beopen on the third floor of UHS on April 18.
UHS officials said they anticipate continuedrenovations and restructuring of the facilitiesand services.
"We hope 3 East can be used as a pilot so thatwhat works here can be spread to different areas,"said Ullman.
"It offers us an opportunity to look at how weare delivering patient care," Haley said.
"We are constantly looking at what we are doingand what we can do better," she said.
In addition to the 3 East wing, UHS also plansto open the Center for Health Education in thenear future.
"Physicians and nurse practitioners will beable to access health educationinformation...targeted to the unique needs of eachpatient," according to a UHS press release.
UHS has hired new trained health assistants toreduce physician workload