Committee responds to student health needs
A healthy does of information
September 27, 2007 9:33 AM
Student Health Center services — if you’re a student, you’re paying for them but you don’t know about it or how it can help you. But there is a volunteer student organization at SF State, part of a national network, aching to tell you about it.
Raising awareness and policy-making are the main duties of the Student Health Advisory Committee (SHAC), according to president Graham Litchman, 26. Students often gloss over the fact that they are paying more than one hundred dollars in fees for health services they don’t use or don’t know enough about, he said.
“We really act as the student voice here for health concerns,” Litchman, a biology major, said. “What they’re paying for is the ability to go in there.”
The student-run committee, a growing body of 15 members, sponsor and publicize health-related events ‑- including blood drives, open houses, the African-American Health Fair in April and a CPR class coming this fall. They also make decisions and vote on services offered at SF State’s health center.
Litchman said one of his goals as a SHAC leader is to inform students about the center’s existence—which could be as simple as setting an information table on the campus and literally pointing out the health center’s location.
Every student already pays, in their school fees, a Student Health Services fee of $108 and another facility fee of $3. The charge has gone up by $3 from last semester and could rise by the same amount in the spring, according to Student Health Service Medical Director Alastair Smith.
But the fees—which Smith calls “a tiny amount of inflation given the real world inflation costs”—are one of the biggest issues SHAC students have had to deal with. The director says a balance is required in deciding which services to offer even if a small piece of the campus population will ever take advantage of it.
“Where do you balance increasing services and where do you balance decreasing services or not extending services and keeping the prices down?” Smith said.
SHAC, a nationally-recognized program that meets once a week, has set up shop on campuses across the United States. In the CSU system, colleges are actually required to organize the committee as part of their health services.
“It’s important that we provide the services that the chancellor requires,” Smith said. “Every student registered on campus, who has paid the health fee, is entitled to a free consultation with a doctor and health education.”
Defining health education can be difficult, Smith said, and so it is up to the health center and SHAC to decide how they want to go about their education.
Smith said the SHAC members play an instrumental role in getting some important programs off the ground. For example, the health center’s Family PACT, a program that connects low-income Californians with family planning and reproductive health services, was first offered in August 2006 after, Smith said, SHAC members strongly encouraged the health center to provide the program. The committee also had a hand in the hiring of the campus’ own psychiatrist, Lois Parkison, who joined the health services staff a few years ago.
A networking effort to bring together SHAC with the other student health organizations on campus such as Peer Educators Advocating Campus Health (PEACH) is on the table for this semester, Litchman said.
“I think there’s nothing more powerful than people coming together with a common goal,” he said.
Albert Angelo, recently named the group’s adviser, has been working in the health center for the past 13 years.
“They are a great group of students,” he said. “I’m really impressed with the maturity and the interest that they have in health and health advisory.”
Although SF State students do not receive college credit for their volunteer work, they have several different motivations to join SHAC.
Long-term SHAC member Jason Epstein, 33, a post-baccalaureate student in molecular cell biology, said that his work with the group enabled him to learn more about the business and logistical aspects needed in his future career as a physician, something he said his classes lacked.
“A cell biology class doesn’t talk about appointment structures in the medical clinic,” Epstein said.
Briza York, 19, is a member of both SHAC and PEACH. As a nutrition major, York says she hopes to work in the health field and said she sees SHAC as a way to demonstrate newly acquired skills.
“In class you learn information, but I think in clubs you get to apply the information to outreach,” York said.
Although the staff is primarily made up of students majoring in health related fields, any SF State student can join SHAC at anytime during the semester.
POST A COMMENT
|BACK TO TOP|| |
Copyright © 2008 [X]press | Journalism Department - San Francisco State University