With the stress of looming final exams building and students returning to school after Thanksgiving break, the Plattsburgh State Student Health Center is in the midst of one of its busiest times of the semester.

College students are more susceptible to common sicknesses such as colds, the flu or a sore throat while at school than at home because so much of their time is spent around other students, according to an article from youngwomenshealth.org, a website concerning student health.

Constant exposure to others that may be sick and the areas they have been greatly increases the chances of contracting an illness. A couple weeks into the beginning of the first semester and around midterms are both times when the staff at Health Center usually sees an increase in patients, Kathleen Camelo, Director of the Student Health Center, said. “It usually builds up around Thanksgiving time, as well.”

The staff at the Student Health Center includes five physicians: three part-time M.D.s, one of whom is a psychiatrist, and two per diem physicians – meaning they work very short-term or temporary shifts, often to cover for sick or vacationing colleagues.

They also employ five full-time counselors that students can make appointments to meet with.

“As of 2013, we have increased our staff,” Camelo said. The rest of the staff is composed of seven registered nurses, four of which are per diem, one LPN, and an administrative staff.

Although prescriptions cannot be filled at the Student Health Center, doctors on staff, including Joanne Astill, the center’s per diem psychiatrist, can write prescriptions for students to have filled at pharmacies in Plattsburgh.

“They are very nice about it,” PSUC junior Giuliana Painter said. “But I don’t have a car, so sometimes it is hard for me to get to the pharmacy to pick up my prescription.”

Patients cannot get prescriptions filled on-campus, Camelo said, because the Health Center does not stock any medication, except for samples, which they will give to patients to use in the meantime before they can pick up their prescription.

Students who wish to meet one-on-one with a doctor should schedule an appointment ahead of time.

Waiting time for an appointment varies, Camelo said, but patients are usually seen within three to five days. “It is rare to wait longer than a week,” she said.

In the event that a crisis situation occurs, counselors are on call to meet with students.

“Sometimes it’s hard to find a time to see them with my schedule. It can be a little difficult find an appointment time that works for everyone,” Painter said.

Although she says the Student Health Center can sometimes be “a slower process compared to other doctor’s offices,” PSUC sophomore Hannah Quick agreed with Painter that the staff at the Health Center is kind and dedicated.

“At first they thought I had a sinus infection,” Quick said about her visit. “It turned out I had bronchitis. I ended up having to go to the hospital, but they were helpful. They even called my parents to let them know what was going on.”

Email Thomas Marble at thomas.marble@cardinalpointsonline.com.

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