McKinley Center doesn’t provide all you may need

By Brittney Foreman

Break your arm? Got the flu? On campus, McKinley Health Center is here to serve students’ medical needs. Sometimes though, students say, McKinley doesn’t have all the answers.

Veronica Jacome, senior in Engineering, said McKinley is good for quick fixes, like getting medicine for a cold or a brace for a wrist problem. She said after her McKinley visits, many times she has to go to Carle Clinic.

“A lot of times I’m unsatisfied with (the) visits,” Jacome said.

She also said she doesn’t think students have a lot of trust in McKinley.

“It’s the only place they have to go, but in general, most people I know don’t think they’ll get cured after they go there,” she said.

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    McKinley medical director David Lawrance said a student should picture McKinley as similar to a family doctor’s office.

    “We do not have an emergency room and we offer no emergency services,” Lawrance said in an e-mail.

    He also said for most of the medical situations that arise, doctors at McKinley can handle it.

    “But, we don’t provide specialist care beyond psychiatry and office gynecology,” Lawrance said. “If someone breaks a bone, they will need to see an orthopedics specialist. If they need pregnancy care, they will need to see the obstetrician. If they have appendicitis, they will need to see a surgeon.”

    And when doctors refer students elsewhere, there’s no guarantee that the visit will be covered by insurance.

    McKinley is not affiliated with student insurance. Lawrance said students pay for its services through the University Health Service fee, which was $196 in for the spring semester. Student insurance has its own cost if students opt to get it. Also, student insurance does cover every type of medical visit.

    Jacome said she had to go to Carle Clinic to get tested for Celiac disease, which is intolerance to gluten, the name for certain proteins in specific cereal grains. She said she’s still paying for the visit.

    “I didn’t just use my student insurance,” she said. “I have health insurance through my parents.”

    Student insurance, which costs $180 each semester, covers injury and sickness with an outpatient deductible of $150 and an outpatient emergency room deductible of $50. It also covers doctor’s visits due to allergies but not allergy testing or allergy medication, according to the Student Insurance Office Web site. The rest of the parameters of the plan are listed as well.

    With other medical institutions in the area like Carle Foundation Hospital, 611 W. Park St., Christie Clinic, 101 W. University Ave., and Provena Covenant Medical Center, 1400 W. Park St., a student might find a place that is covered, if not by student insurance, then by an alternate insurance provider he or she may have.

    Many of the medical institutions have Web sites indicating which insurance providers they accept. However, Crystal Hogue, patient accounts representative at Carle Foundation Hospital, said it is up to the patient to contact the insurance company to verify his or her provider is in a specific hospital network.

    For example, Carle Clinic and Carle Foundation Hospital list accepted insurance providers on their Web sites, with stipulations: both institutions may not accept the same providers.

    “Even though we share the same name, it’s two separate billing entities,” Hogue said.

    She said Carle Foundation Hospital gets calls all the time from students wondering why a specific service was not covered by their student insurance.

    Helade Santos, graduate student in LAS, said she always makes sure her medical visits are covered.

    “I think we should do that,” Santos said. “I don’t know if I’m good (at) it, but I try to get the information first.”

    Jacome said the reason McKinley is convenient is because it feels like a student doesn’t have to pay for the visit, as the cost is already included in tuition and fees.

    Starting this fall, McKinley will require students to dish out a $5 universal co-payment for prescriptions that previously were free.

    According to its Web site, the elimination of government incentive programs has caused pharmaceutical companies to raise the prices of medications. Depending on the medication, some students may have to pay more than a $5 co-payment.

    Prices may be on the rise, but Lawrance said McKinley has a good medical foundation.

    “We are the only Joint Commission-accredited ambulatory care health care organization in the region,” Lawrance said in an e-mail. “Carle Clinic isn’t, Christie Clinic isn’t. We are. And it isn’t easy.”

    Again, students might disagree with its credentials.

    “It’s a necessary resource, but not a very good resource,” said Chris Willard, University alumnus.

    Willard said he had experiences with different doctors and there was only one that he completely trusted.

    “After my first experience, I figured out I just (needed) to go in there and tell them what was wrong with me … and tell them to give (medicine),” he said.

    Some students have different opinions.

    “I’ve always had really good experiences with McKinley,” said Rex Wright, senior in LAS.

    He said his first experience with McKinley wasn’t the best but it changed after he switched doctors. He said the kind of doctor a student gets is hit or miss.

    “Going to McKinley is like going to the emergency room,” Wright said. “You could get a doctor that’s really friendly or get a doctor that’s in and out, trying to take care of you real quick.”

    Wright said that this experience could happen anywhere.

    A link on McKinley’s Web site encourages students to “speak up” and help prevent errors in the care they receive from McKinley.

    “Students who have had a bad track record with us: don’t give up on us,” Lawrance said. “Unfortunately, only one in 10 people with a bad experience ever tells you about it. If we let you down, tell us what we did wrong. That’s how we improve.”