Students Criticize Service, Prescriptions

Some students believe University Health Services (UHS) suffers from an image problem.

It is sometimes mocked by campus humor magazines and occasionally belittled by the students it strives to serve.

"The perception on campus among students is that UHS does not promise them the best in health care," David J. Malan '99 said. "I am less comfortable at UHS by far than I am with [my] doctors at home."

Students interviewed recently cited all sorts of problems with UHS, including excessive and insufficient medication and lack of responsiveness from UHS doctors.

Johnisha Matthews '99 says that her UHS doctors constantly over- or under-estimate her health problems. Matthews, who suffers from sinus problems, goes into UHS every two weeks to get allergy shots. She says that such routine appointments are "no big deal."


However, "when my allergies get really bad, it can build up into a sinus" problem, Matthews says. "It's usually around when the weather changes."

When this happens, Matthews says she has to seek more comprehensive medical treatment. Sometimes, she says, UHS doctors are overassiduous and prescribe too much medication, but at other times, Matthews says, they hesitate to prescribe any drugs at all.

"One time they wouldn't give me drugs, and I had to get my mom to send my antibiotics because they were really adamant that it was probably a cold, and I would get over it without any help," she says.

Stuart D. Shapley '98 says he experienced a similar problem last year. Shapley walked into UHS complaining of a sore throat and a cold and walked out with Azmacort, an asthma inhaler usually prescribed for chronic asthma sufferers.

Jennifer E. Hoffman '99 says she also received treatment above and beyond what she felt was necessary for her condition. Hoffman says she once went into UHS with the stomach flu and ended up being hooked up to an intravenous tube for dehydration.

"I just had a stomach flu, and all I wanted was an excuse to get out of my final because I had a 102 [degree] fever and kept throwing up," she says. "It was just one of those 48-hour bugs that come and go. I would have recovered just as quickly without the IV."

Jonathan A. Hahn '99 said he experienced the opposite problem with a doctor who refused to take his illness seriously.

One day during his first year, Hahn says, he felt dizzy because of the flu as he did his homework, so he decided "to take a shower to lower his temperature and to clear his head."

He blacked out in the shower but managed to make it to UHS with the help of his roommates, where he waited two hours before he saw a doctor. The doctor tested him for mononucleosis and then sent him home.

"What I thought was basically an emergency situation, they just said, 'Let's test to see if you have mono,' Hahn says. "They just told me I didn't have mono and that was it."