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We are writing this letter in response to Nancy Raine Reyes's recent editorial on the University Health Services ("Harvard's Health Crisis, Opinion, Dec. 14, 1994). We do not intend to argue with Ms. Reyes's assertions about UHS. As members of the Student Health Advisory Council (SHAC), it is our job to facilitate interaction between students and UHS. Ms. Reyes's points are certainly alarming and are currently being investigated. However, we believe many students simply do not understand how the University health care system is set up and therefore are unable to utilize its facilities effectively.
The UHS health care delivery system is comprised of primary care clinicians organized in teams, specialists available upon referral and an After Hours Urgent Care Clinic for emergencies. The UHS primary care clinicians include both physicians (M.D.'s) and nurse practitioners (R.N.C.'s). Students are encouraged to choose a primary care clinician as early as possible by calling or visiting UHS and informing the receptionist of their choice.
To assist in the selection of a primary care clinician, students can consult the UHS clinician facebook, which is available at UHS and in the House offices. Students then see the same primary care clinician every time they visit UHS. This system enables the clinician to become familiar with each student's particular medical needs. Please note that only your primary care clinician, other team clinicians or other specialists can give you a referral to a specialist.
Unfortunately, students often proceed directly to the After Hours Urgent Care Clinic when they get sick instead of making an appointment to see their primary care clinician. The urgent care clinic is staffed by different personnel every day and therefore cannot administer the continuity of health care that an established primary care clinician would offer.
Of course, the system is not foolproof, and problems sometimes arise in one of the many facets of health care delivery. To address these problems, UHS has systems to allow patients to voice their comments. Students can speak confidentially to UHS Patient Advocate Kathleen Dias with any questions, comments or complaints. Kathleen serves as the patient's chief ally in addressing any issues relating to their individual care. If students want their comments or complaints handled confidentially by their fellow students, they can submit written responses to the student response box located on the first floor of UHS. A student patient advocate from SHAC will respond to the comment within 24 hours and will and will assist in whatever manner is appropriate.
Despite all the negative rumors that abound, UGHS still exists to provide the highest quality of health care for students. We hope to continue opening the lines of communication between students and the UHS. To further this end, SHAC will be holding a series of informal meeting with the Director of UHS, Dr. David S. Rosenthal '59, in the spring so that students, can discuss their concerns about UHS with him.
With the winter upon us, we hope Ms. Reyes's article does not keep students from coming to UHS when they need medical attention. For further information or if you have questions, please contact Kathleen Dias, the UHS Patient Advocate at 495-7583. --Sahil Parikh '95 Suresh Magge '96 Co-Chairs Student Health Advisory Council
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