How the pandemic has affected the Student Wellness Center


Selena Favela

Steve Clark YMCA and Student Wellness Center on Monday, March 23, 2020.

Throughout the pandemic, Wichita State’s Student Wellness Center has been proactive in keeping campus’ health its priority. Their services may look a bit different this year, but they are still open and providing support for the health of students and staff.

As the Director for Student Health Services at WSU, Camille Childers has been in charge of providing overall supervision and overseeing operations for the center during the pandemic.

Childers said the Health Center has taken many precautions to ensure the safety of the staff and visitors. 

Not only does the Wellness Center follow the health and safety guidelines for campus, Childers said they have also created an extensive set of rules to be more prepared. 

Some of these rules include asking students to call ahead to make appointments, limiting visitors for appointments in the clinic, and transferring the majority of health education to a virtual medium.

We also were one of the only departments that started providing virtual content last March through our Tuesday Talks,” said Heather Stafford, Associate Director of Student Health Services. “[Tuesday Talks] continues to this day so that students are still receiving good, quality health education and interesting topics.”

In addition, the Welness Center has started offering curbside pickup for medication refills and tuberculosis test reads.

Compared to last year, Childers said the number of in-person students they see in the clinic has decreased, but other forms of contact have done the opposite.

“The number of contacts with students through secure messaging and phone calls has increased dramatically,” said Childers.

Stafford says the move to virtual health advice has had some positive impacts.

We have a much higher engagement with students through social media health education information than we ever did through planned on-campus events,” Stafford said.

Childers and Stafford both agree that the virtual format has increased the busyness of the center.

“The case management work with students in isolation and quarantine adds to the busyness,” Childers said. “Case management is done over the phone, so we spend a lot of time talking with students.”

“As the campus health center, we also respond to questions from students, parents, staff and the general public related to COVID-19 or other health related concerns.”

For Childers, the pandemic has increased her workload in terms of staying updated on the most recent information.

“Keeping up to date with the latest, best practices and guidelines and then collaborating with campus partners on applying new or updated information at WSU takes time,” said Childers.

Stafford said the staff has also seen an increased workload over the course of the pandemic.

Along with the addition of offering free COVID testing and eventually vaccinations it’s just a different type of busy that still supports students but is demanding on staff time,” Stafford said.

Preparing to be a COVID-19 distribution site has also been added to the Health Center’s to-do list.

Discussions on planning, logistics, and operations for a vaccination clinic are occurring both internally and with relevant campus partners,” Childers said.

Although COVID-19 guidelines advise people to stay home as much as possible, Childers wants students and staff to remember that it is still safe to seek medical care.

“It is important to not be afraid to seek medical care during this time,” Childers said. “We are seeing students for routine health visits as well as illness care visits.”