McKinley Health Center deserves lackluster reputation


Wenyuan Chen

Photo of the McKinley Health Center on 1109 S. Lincoln Ave. on April 17, 2016.

By Tatiana Rodriguez, Columnist

“Have you tried cough drops?”

That’s what the doctor at McKinley recommended to me after I described what I would later come to find were the symptoms of bacterial bronchitis.

Though I had heard other students’ McKinley horror stories — near death experiences, long wait times and misdiagnosed illnesses galore — I had always assumed these stories were exaggerations.

Coming from a major city, I’m okay with long waits, crowded facilities and disgruntled employees because I know that I’m going to be sent home with a brand new prescription to cure me. At McKinley, however, no such cure is guaranteed.

Students often tell stories about how McKinley’s doctors and practitioners have prescribed them ibuprofen and cough medicine in the past when stronger antibiotics were needed.

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    Any quick Google search for negative reviews of McKinley will lead inquiring minds to a forum on Reddit titled, “McKinley: The Worst Health Center in America.”

    Nearly all 69 comments describe various, and much more serious, encounters with the health center — stories about doctors belittling serious health concerns, misread blood tests and the Carle Foundation Hospital saving the day.

    While the McKinley Health Center here on campus is no high-profile hospital, students shouldn’t expect the worst from their school’s own health center.

    The jokes about McKinley misdiagnosing students aren’t so funny when kids have had to be hospitalized because their medical needs weren’t met.

    After going to McKinley for the second time — since the antibiotics the first doctor threw at me shockingly didn’t work — I received a much more thorough examination. Nearly three hours of my life were spent at McKinley undergoing various tests until they finally came to the conclusion that I should just be taking more of the antibiotics that didn’t work the first time. After waking up the next day, feeling disgusting, I decided to visit Carle’s Convenient Care and received a more assuring doctor’s visit.

    The employees at McKinley have, for the most part, been kind to me. In no way am I trying to imply that the doctors, nurses and other staff aren’t trying to make me better; but the bottom line is they failed.

    And the reasons behind why this is the case aren’t that difficult to put together. It must be extremely difficult for one health center to meet all the demands of nearly 45,000 students.

    From the looks of the aforementioned Reddit post, however, students aren’t willing to cut McKinley much slack. And why should they? Everyone deserves to have their medical needs taken care of.

    And though I am fairly certain many of McKinley’s employees are trying to do their best, they simply don’t seem to be getting the job done.

    For many students, their experiences at McKinley may certainly be their first attempt at curing themselves while away from home. It’s no surprise that angry emotions will be hurdled toward the health center if students aren’t fixed up in a day or two.

    I, myself, am guilty of cursing the health center even when the doctors there were doing all that they could. Perhaps I should have taken a visit to the hospital in the first place after hearing all of the horror stories.

    I don’t know what exactly could be done to improve the health center. Is it a funding problem? Are the doctors who are being hired inexperienced? Or is it just that the adults working there assume students are constantly attempting to get out of class?

    Whatever the problem is, there is no reason for why I should be encouraged to cure myself with cough drops while I run a fever and cough like an old man.

    Tatiana is a freshman in Media.

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