University of North Georgia students on the Gainesville campus now have one less hurdle for receiving quality health services.
Instead of relying on health insurance or driving to the Dahlonega campus, they can visit the new Student Health Services clinic, which is across from the Student Center.
The clinic’s services are funded by a $65 mandatory fee, which is paid by students who have six hours or more of semester class credit. UNG paid $900,000 for the facility’s renovations.
Students can enter the center on a walk-in basis. The $65 per semester fee covers most of the clinic’s offerings like treatments for the common cold, open wounds, flu, allergic reactions or asthma attacks.
The more than 5,000-square-foot-space includes a pharmacy, two triage rooms for initial screenings, five exam rooms, several offices and a lab for blood work and urinary tests.
“I think students may be surprised at what we can do here very quickly,” Karen Tomlinson, UNG’s director of student health services, said. “You don’t have to wait, and you don’t have to go to a pharmacy afterward.”
The health center has a licensed practical nurse, physician’s assistant and nurse physician — all of which work full-time. Dr. Tawanna Strauther from the North Georgia Physicians Group Oakwood devotes five hours a week to the clinic.
The clinic’s pharmacy stays stocked with antibiotics, injectable medications, creams and other medicine students commonly need.
“We treat probably 99% of what comes in with the medication that we have,” Tomlinson said. “That’s a part of their health fee.”
Tomlinson compares the pharmacy to a dispensary, since the clinic doesn’t have any pharmacists on hand. All of the medicine is pre-packaged, but the nurses and staff at the health center can add labels with dosage guidelines.
When the clinic first opened on Jan. 13, 22 students came in to schedule appointments or receive services.
Tomlinson said students quickly took advantage of the center’s women’s health offerings, particularly prescriptions for birth control pills.
The facility also offers other health services like testicular cancer exams and physicals.
“This age group, traditionally in college age, have a higher risk of testicular cancer,” Tomlinson said. “We can check for that and send them off for an ultrasound.”
Students have the option of getting immunizations for Hepatitis B, Tuberculosis, the flu, and other diseases and infections at the clinic.
To the right of the clinic’s check-in window, students can pick up over-the-counter medication such as ibuprofen, vitamin C tablets, allergy medicine, cold relief and hydrocortisone cream. Students are allowed to take up three packets of medicine per day.
Tomlinson encourages UNG students to not overlook health center’s offerings.
“We may be able to help you more than you think,” she said. “And, if we can't, then we’ll at least give you some advice and potentially tell you where to go. Let us be the first step before you go somewhere else.”