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UHS Adapts to Student Needs

New Programs Improve Health Care for Women

By Samuel Z. Goldhaber

The University Health Services (UHS) has instituted changes to become more responsive, especially to women's needs.

Beginning September 1, women have been able to go to the walk-in clinic with the option of requesting gynecological, instead of just medical or surgical services. Through the shuffling of some physicians' schedules' UHS now guarantees women continuous access to a physician interested in gynecological problems.

Dr. Warren E.C. Wacker, director of the UHS since July 1, said that for cases requiring the attention of a specialist, Dr. Somers H. Sturgis, clinical professor of Gynecology, will now see patients at the Health Services for four instead of three sessions each week.

In addition to rearranging gynecological services, Wacker has appointed Margaret S. McKenna '70 as his assistant. McKenna, who founded Room 13 last year, prepared a student guide to the UHS in which she outlined some services for women that have undoubtedly been underutilized in the past:

The UHS will examine women who desire 'morning-after' medication for unprotected intercourse. 'Do not rely on this medication instead of contraception,' the guide cautions. 'It cannot be taken regularly and should be considered only as emergency back-up protection.

Pregnancy tests are available free at UHS. If a woman comes to the clinic before 9 a.m., the test results will be available after 2 p.m. the same day.

The Health Services will provide follow-up care for women who have therapeutic abortions. For women who wish to have the baby, UHS will help find an obstetrician and will give pregnancy counseling. 'Being pregnant does not affect your university status, the guide states.

When Wacker became UHS director last July, he took over from Dr. Dana Farnsworth, who retired. Farnsworth's administration had been criticized for insensitivity toward women and for lack of confidentiality.

Wacker said that he investigated the confidentiality matter as best he could "I don't think there are any serious breaches of confidence. No one can come around for a security check or from other schools to look at health records," Wacker said.

Wacker compared the Harvard community to a small town where at least some gossip, although improper, has nevertheless occurred. 'Individuals may have mentioned a word here or there indiscreetly--at the Faculty Club, sitting in the Square, or at a cocktail party.'

McKenna wrote in the UHS guide that 'records cannot be shown to or discussed with anyone without a signed release from the student. They are kept permanently in the UHS record room, even after a student leaves.'

In addition to the changes affecting gynecological services. Wacker is studying the feasibility of opening the UHS clinic services to dependents of faculty and employees. (At present, dependents over age 14 can be treated by a UHS physician in Stillman Infirmary. But this in-patient service is not used frequently.)

Wacker said the possibility of UHS's serving dependents on an out-patient basis is 'very embryonic.' The first step, he said, will be to send our questionnaires to a random sample of faculty and employees. Wacker hopes to have processed the results of the questionnaire by midyear.

Yale opened its health services to dependents in July, Wacker said. About 50 per cent of the faculty but only 20 per cent of the employees subscribed to the dependent plan.

Wacker hopes for a stronger employee response to the dependent plan at Harvard. He explained that Yale employees were unfamiliar with the college health services because they, unlike Harvard's employees, had not participated in them previously.

Wacker said he 'wants to get out to freshmen' because 'there hasn't been enough contact with the Health Services on a person-to-person basis.' "I will make myself available to the Houses," he said, noting he thinks there should be a 'formalized means' for student-UHS contact.

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