posted 2012-10-25 13:27:47

Nurse Position Vacant at Hunter

Students told to look elsewhere for health services

Lisa Babel

Staff Writer

The office of Health Services. Photo by Eddy Boguslavsky

Recently, there has been cause for concern about the vacancy of the on-site nurse practitioner at Hunter College. As a result, the office of Health Services, a Division of Student Affairs, is unable to offer many health services until further notice, causing some disruptions and inconveniences for the college community.

Health Services Director Leslie Ader said that although it was not required, Hunter College used to have a part-time school nurse for the past five years until the job position was rescinded last May. “Historically, Health Services has had a nurse practitioner who provided a range of services,” stated Ader. “We are looking to fill the position as soon as we are able to.”

According to the Hunter College website, the purpose of the Counseling and Wellness Services is to supply sufficient information and resources that are responsive to the Hunter College community, including a nurse practitioner to tend to people’s needs. Other health- related information is given on nutrition, domestic violence, sexual health, and stress management, however there is no longer a health care provider to administer aid for an array of injuries and illnesses and perform physical exams, STD and HIV testing, and vaccinations.

Many students said they supported the idea of reinstating a nurse practitioner. Nursing student, Carina Peña, age 20, said, “it is really important that we have a school nurse again. Anything could happen at any given moment.” If someone does require on-campus medical attention, the health services director advised faculty, staff, and students to contact Public Safety for immediate assistance. Several Public Safety officers are licensed emergency medical technicians.

According to the college’s website, in order to use any of the on-campus exercise facilities students and faculty are required to have a physical examination conducted by the school’s nurse, in order to obtain a Physical Activity Card. The PAC once needed to be renewed every two years for card holders to use the school’s fitness center, pool, gymnasium, and other recreational facilities; now the card does not expire. Although still encouraged, physical examinations are no longer required and medical forms do not need to be updated, due to the lack of a school nurse. The school has suggested that individuals laminate their PAC cards – printed on damage-prone paper – to preserve the card from regular wear and tear.

I don’t have a PAC card but may need one to use the health facilities in the future,” said 23-year-old Nathanial Ward, graduating in the spring with an Accounting degree. Although it may be easier to obtain a PAC now, Ward said he believed, “there still needs to be a nurse for other related services, or in the case of emergencies.”

The absence of a school nurse has caused further suspicion as to why the job position was ousted to begin with. Ashley Velez, 20, a History major, suggested, “perhaps we don’t have a full-time nurse because there is not a high demand for one.” In the same breath, Velez stated, “We should still have a school nurse. You never know what may occur. It is better to be safe than sorry.”

According to Ader, the college had a contract with the Mount Sinai of Queens Workplace Wellness Program to provide a nurse to the college. However, when the contract expired, “we took this opportunity to evaluate the services offered and consider alternatives to renewing the contract,” she said.

The Office of Wellness Services at Hunter College will still provide various clinical services with an on-site health facilitator, as well as perform other health- related activities, however the office will have limited availability. Those wanting to make use of the school’s health services are advised to check their calendar for events and dates for specific services that are offered. As for now, Health Services’ priority is to continue to provide the sufficient clinical services that it has offered in the past. In the meantime, Hunter College is in negotiations to reinstate a nurse practitioner and hoping to move the process along as quick as possible. We are collaborating with the School of Nursing to establish a position in Health Services for a nurse practitioner and we hope to finalize this soon,” said Ader.

Most CUNY schools have a nurse practitioner on campus, however individual CUNY schools only honor health services for students at each respective school. Hunter students cannot use their OneCard identification to receive health services from other CUNY schools. Until the nurse position is filled, CUNY advises students to visit alternate health centers listed on their webpage.