Monday, March 27, 2023

Student health fee to increase

Director of the Student Health and Counseling Center Kathleen Camelo and finance and operations manager Laura Rosenbrock presented their budget as well as their request for an increase in the student health fee by 2.8 percent. 

This is the bill Plattsburgh State students can look at through their student portal on the PSUC website. If a student is local, has primary health coverage elsewhere or insurance to cover it, they may opt out of accepting the fee to utilize health services through the college. Most students, however, rely on the service the on-campus health center provides, for physical and mental ailments. 

The health center has a medical staff of 20 trained individuals including board-certified caregivers and experienced counselors from the local Behavioral Health Services North. The services offered include short-term, goal-oriented therapy, intravenous therapy, prescriptions, and a taxi service that transports students to Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital for free as needed. 

“Basically, we’re your primary care doctors away from home,” Camelo said. “We take care of your acute illnesses and your chronic illnesses. We do a number of laboratory tests.” 

The health center can test for pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, blood sugar abnormalities and a number of different bodily conditions. 

The projected revenue for the health center for the upcoming year is $2,143,103 with a $16,260 cash balance, which according to Rosenbrock, would deplete quickly in the event of the mumps or meningitis outbreak like the ones that have occurred in the past. The health center is funded through the Student Association and has also presented their information to the Student Health Advisory Committee, who raised concerns much like the SA. One of which was how to get immediate psychological care to those on-campus who are experiencing a crisis. 

Vice President of Student Affairs Bryan Hartman was in attendance of the SA meeting and highlighted the partnership PSUC has with BHSN, although they require patients to use pre-existing insurance. Another avenue for mental health treatment, according to Hartman, is a new service PSUC will begin promoting after spring break. 

Better Mynd is a mental health wellness platform that allows students to connect with mental health professionals based on preference and insurance type. The platform even allows for video interface counseling for those who do not wish to physically attend appointments. 

The removal of the athletic fee and, in its place, an addition of a recreation fee was proposed by Hartman and the Director of Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreation Mike Howard. 

Memorial Hall, according to Howard and Hartman, is in need of improvement and renovation. The pool, as many are aware, will be closed to students as of the fall 2019 semester. In its place will be a multipurpose gym that will provide opportunities for dance, cheerleading, martial arts, pickleball and other recreational clubs to utilize the space. 

“Some people are very upset that we’re losing the pool, and I understand that,” Hartman said. “But when we look at the numbers of students we can serve with a recreational gym versus a pool, the numbers don’t compare.” 

The renovations will also include improvements to changing rooms, a new athlete strengthening and conditioning room, as well as more equipment for workout rooms. 

The new design plan was demonstrated on-screen by Howard. New construction would bring a student lounge, reception area, card access to certain workout areas, an improved climbing wall and a general bright and clean atmosphere to Memorial Hall. The administration hopes to break ground on the project in November but cannot speak to when it will be finished, citing the “wacky world of SUNY construction”. 

Howard and Hartman are proposing the fitness center fee be eradicated and instead would like students to pay a $170 recreation fee. This in turn would reduce the SA fee to roughly $193. This change in fees will be approved at the state level. 

Students were concerned with paying the mandatory, broad-based recreational fee when they in fact do not use Memorial Hall’s services. Hartman stated he hopes the mandatory fee will incentivize students to remain active during their semester and receive the health benefits that exercise can bring. 

The Student Diversity Board was approved an allocation if $1,000 to pay for the services of guest speaker Rachel Cargle, a black female activist and student of Columbia University who advocates for racial and gender equality. Cargle will appear for a lecture on campus sometime in April. 

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