WSU health leaders talk summer resources, changes to Student Health Services



The outside of the Student Wellness Center.

At a virtual town hall on Thursday, leaders of Wichita State’s health service departments discussed new safety measures, summer services, and changes to the way Student Health Services will function. 

Student Body President Rija Khan, who hosted the town hall, said self care is important, especially during a public health crisis. 

She said she brought campus health leaders together “in hopes of addressing student concerns and issues on student wellness as we all navigate our roles and responsibilities during the coronavirus pandemic.”

Changes to Student Health Services

There are many issues to consider right now, but campus safety and health are among the most pressing, said Cynthia Walker, a nurse practitioner for Student Health Services. The panel discussed a set of changes that students should know about: 

  • Patients must enter Student Health Services through the YMCA door on the east side of the building.
  • Those who have symptoms of illness need to call for an appointment instead of walking in unscheduled. This will help enforce social distancing.
  • After entering, visitors will remove their own masks and put on one from SHS, and then wash their hands with hand sanitizer.
  • SHS added sneeze guards.
  • The lobby will separate sick visitors from well visitors.  
  • When clinical staff comes to get a student for their appointment, they may have goggles, masks, gowns, and gloves on.

Students will continue to pick up prescriptions at the curb, Walker said, to avoid having to come inside. Tuberculosis reads are also being done curbside.

To prepare for the fall semester, she said health services instituted teletherapy, particularly for counseling services, and are looking at using it for contraception management. 

Another issue being weighed is individual privacy with COVID-19, she said. 

“There are some diseases that have really high importance, and so as healthcare providers, we are required to report these cases to either state or local agencies,” she said. 

If a student tests positive, The Sedgwick County Health Department will work with them to trace recent contacts. Walker said the CDC defines that as being within six feet for a prolonged period of about 10 to 15 minutes within the last 14 days.

Sedgwick County would notify those contacts, and then exposed individuals will need to quarantine, she said. Student Health Services will be informed about any positive cases and potential exposures but will not be given individual names of those affected, Walker said. 

Counseling and mental health

Jessica Provines, director of Counseling and Prevention Services, said its providers are seeing patients through an online, remote platform. Staffers are looking at adding sneeze guards, proper sanitation, and transparent face masks for visitors to make it less challenging to communicate when they begin in-person services again.

Alicia Newell, associate vice president of Student Affairs, said the Care Team is not skipping a beat this summer.

“We’re really focusing on finding more resources for our students to maintain both personal and academic success,” Newell said. 

If an individual feels that they need more support, they can send a report to the Care Team and they’ll be contacted in 24 or less to see how the team can help, she said.

The conversation also addressed current socio-political tensions and where people can look for help this summer.

“Wellness Services stands with our students, particularly our black students, as they continue to witness violence and so many brutal killings of people of color,” Provines said. “We recognize that these times are very emotionally trying and can trigger a lot of trauma and intense emotions.”