McKilling the bad press on McKinley Heath Center

By Henry Soong

Our 21st-century measurements of historical importance have not been kind to President William McKinley. Of the top five Google search results for “McKinley,” our nation’s 25th president – general of the gold standard, troubadour of the tariff – is mentioned only once, third in a line of ego-deflating contenders.

But bad news for some is fantastic news for others, namely the University’s very own McKinley Health Center which nabs the top two spots in this illustrious line of who’s whos.

In light of the health center’s preeminence in cursory Google word searches, I visited McKinley for a study abroad physical examination. As it was my first visit, I received several grave warnings before making the trek, mostly stuff along the lines of “physician-assisted suicide is illegal in Illinois, so don’t let McKillme pull any fast ones on you,” and “if they want to stick you with a needle, you’ve got to run like hell.”

My stroll over to McKinley was mostly spent pondering the possible accidents that could result from my check-up. The consensus on campus seems to be that the “McKillme” Health Center is a place of last resort even in a time of plague. I’ve heard horror stories of misdiagnoses and medications that exacerbated illnesses, so I prepared myself for the experience by dreaming up scenarios where doctors tell me they discover a new strain of Ebola in my body.

After getting lost in my daydream and ending up at the National Soybean Research Center, I did find the building, and checked in for my appointment on a nifty computer console in the lobby. A receptionist found me wandering the halls as I looked for the proper waiting room.

Surprisingly, there were no agonizing screams behind any closed doors, nor were there any patients in nightgowns fleeing the premises. We walked up a concealed flight of stairs and wound around several corridors before coming to the clinic. If there were anything suspicious going on at McKinley, the place is definitely labyrinthine enough to keep any experimental subjects from escaping.

I made mental notes of each right and left turn we made. Just in case.

The nurse who took my blood pressure was brusque. Maybe I’m still used to my pediatrician’s nurse in Elmo scrubs who calls bruises “boo-boos” and offers lollipops before leaving the room, but this one was all about business.

“Fill out these forms. Give me your arm. Sign here. Stop eating the Popsicle sticks.”

She left as fast as she had come, telling me to wait for the nurse practitioner.

The nurse practitioner (we’ll call her the NP, as in Not-quite-a-Physician) had a similar approach to running my physical. She walked in without any sort of introduction, carrying a bundle of papers, and sat at the desk filling out paperwork. I snuck a glance at her name tag as she scribbled away.

NP, curtly: “Where are you traveling to?”

Me, chirpily: “Well, I’m going to England in June, but first I’m going Turkey for two weeks right after school ends!”

The NP rifled through the forms and turned to me, exasperated. There weren’t any papers in the stack for Turkey because I had only arranged an appointment for traveling to England.

NP, bemoaningly: “Turkey and England are two completely different worlds. You’re going to need several boosters.”

I froze as she pressed the stethoscope to my back, waiting for me to inhale and exhale deeply. If they want to stick you with a needle, you’ve got to run like hell! I really considered refusing the shots and following the advice, but instead resigned myself to death by lethal injection.

The shots came quickly and painlessly, and the NP and I made small talk about traveling abroad. She laughed and I laughed, and she even offered me a glass of apple juice after I signed yet another barrage of forms. Somewhere in the midst of the travel tips and advice, the NP (who looked strikingly like the mom character from “Little Miss Sunshine”) suddenly wasn’t so much executioner as she was just a normal, misunderstood nurse practitioner.

As I threw on a windbreaker over my bandaged arm and waved goodbye to the NP, I considered the circumstances under which McKinley Health Center might have first earned its flattering alias. Like killer whales, the good folks at McKillme are just misunderstood, squid-eating gentle giants. We would all do well to visit the Health Center for a second impression.

Henry is a freshman in Business. Even as a fan of McKinley Health Center, he still thinks President McKinley should get first mention on Google.