Something every college student becomes very familiar with during the first month of dorm life is constantly being sick. Diagnoses of mono, strep, and the flu seem to go hand-in-hand with living with other college students for the first time. My first and only time in an ambulance was when my roommate had to “TEMS herself” when she had a 105-degree fever in the first week of classes last semester. Along with ordering Emergen-C packets on Amazon and buying all of the cold medicine at Provisions, students may weigh the options of either visiting the health center or an Urgent Care off campus. Many students, however, are not afforded the luxury of choosing their health provider if they use the Tulane-sponsored insurance, leading to hoards of students flocking to Campus Health at a time.
I’m fortunate enough to use my parents’ health insurance and have the ability to try out various care options. Through my own learning experiences and those of my friends, I’ve become a full-on promoter of the In and Out Urgent Care just a five minute drive away. This is after my less-than-stellar time at the health center on campus. During the first wave of the freshman plague, the Campus Health waiting room was full of fellow classmates coughing up a storm, including a girl who I had forgotten was even in my French class because the flu had prevented her from going to class for weeks. After spending an hour checking in and trying to fill out insurance information while your mind is barely lucid after days of not sleeping, you end up waiting another hour upstairs while contracting all of the diseases that other students sitting next to you have.
In November, I was so sick that I could barely stay awake for more than a few hours at a time. After waiting for two hours, I was taken to a room for a blood test where a woman stuck a needle in my arm without even a “hello” or making any eye contact. Not that I was expecting to become friends, but when you are sick and living on your own for the first time—and are enduring the very unpleasant situation of getting blood drawn—a little warmth goes a long way. I was tested to see if I had mono and it took at least a week for me to get my (thankfully negative) results back, after I had called twice to see if they came in. I know I might sound like your grandma complaining that her doctor never gets back to her, but it is really frustrating when you feel so sick and just want to know what’s wrong.
The next time I felt sick enough to visit a doctor was in January, and I decided to listen to my friends’ advice and try Urgent Care. I was amazed when the person at the front desk warned me, apologetically, that there would be a 5 to 10 minute wait. Everyone was so nice and explained exactly what they were testing me for and the doctor offered a doctor’s note to excuse me from class without me even asking! I was quite literally “in and out” of there within 40 minutes, and I was able to get back to my bed much faster than if I had gone to the on campus center (which is only a five minute walk from my dorm).
It felt like the Four Seasons compared to a Super 8 Motel on the side of the road. They both ultimately do the same job, but a visit to one certainly is more pleasant than the other. While I do sympathize with how overworked Campus Health is with the insane amount of students seeking help at any given time, I do think more can be done to make the process of seeing a doctor more efficient and pleasant. As the sole option for many Tulane students, the health center needs to better accommodate those who cannot use another provider. I’d without a doubt suggest making the trip off campus to anyone who is able to because it is actually far more convenient than Campus Health, notwithstanding its appealing location. In my experience, the care provided Campus Health could stand to become a bit more urgent.
Cover Photo: Hannah Leibovich