After a year and a half at Temple it was bound to happen — a visit to Student Health Services. It wasn’t a visit I was looking forward to. Horror stories abound from those who have had the unfortunate experience of becoming ill while living on campus.
I started hearing the stories in 1999, my freshman year at Temple. I have recollections of a girl who visited Health Services with enormous, silver dollar sized welts on her legs. They seemed to be some type of allergic reaction to a bug bite, but the Health Services diagnosis was “razor burn.”
Then there was the girl who went in for the sniffles and cold sores. She was preached to so intensely about preventative medicine (a euphemism for being given an attitude for ‘getting herself sick’), that she is now fearful of returning to the same doctor.
I was hesitant about visiting Health Services, but was also very sick. Therefore, I had no choice. I assumed the stories I had heard were exaggerations and that my experience would not be quite as uncomfortable. Feeling like death was upon me, I did not take the time to make an appointment.
However, I learned that hardly mattered. Running into a friend at Health Services, she told me that she had tried to make an appointment over the phone, but had been put on hold for at least 10 minutes. Not once, but twice.
Apparently that well-known computerized male voice had periodically told her to remain on the line because her call was “important to us.” Not believing him, as any of us ever do, she chose to walk in to make an appointment.
For those unfamiliar with the Health Services experience there is a lot of waiting followed by more waiting and more waiting on top of that. I have never experienced such a long wait in any doctor’s office.
After an hour I was thankful to find out that I would be seen, but this would not be the actual visit, just a preliminary one. The actual visit would have to be scheduled and luckily for me it would be the same day. So, I went home and then came back over an hour later for my appointment.
After waiting in an examination room for about half an hour, the doctor entered. The doctor was very responsive and helpful. The Health Services experience is not all bad. There were a few employees who had pleasant dispositions, such as the woman who reassured me that I would get my prescription “as soon as the nurse comes out” to help me, which would be “shortly.”
Apparently, in Temple time, “shortly” means 20 minutes.
There were employees who were friendly and tried to make the experience more comfortable, but their efforts only slightly made up for the women at the main desk who would not look at the patient’s face when they approached the desk.
If you happen to go to Health Services in the future, or if you have ever gone before, you will notice one thing as you first enter the office. That is the sign, which is the size of an entire wall, which tells patients to pay upon service.
Temple University is, afterall, a business. But shouldn’t this also mean we should get the service we deserve for the money we pay?
There is a fee on tuition bills for Student Health. However, many Temple students do not take advantage of Health Services, even though they pay for it each semester. For many it is simpler to go home if home is close by or to `ride out’ whatever ails them.
We may have more buildings, but if the offices are not run to the satisfaction of the student body (the customers), word spreads and to Temple’s disadvantage, they may start losing potential customers. This hurts the University, as well as the students because our school will continually be associated with inefficiency and incompetence.