Health Center sees increase in Jan. visits from past years

The Health Center saw an unusual rush of students during Winter Study this year.

Ruth Harrison, director of the Health Center, reported that during the month of January there were 789 student visits to nursing staff, compared to both the 568 visits to the nursing staff last January as well as the monthly average of 650 visits. In total, these figures represent a 21 percent increase in visits to nurse staff. The nurse practitioner’s workload increased by 18 percent, from an average of 225 monthly consults to 265 during January.

“I don’t have a definitive answer as to why there was such an increase this year,” Harrison said. “I can tell you that many colleges saw an increase in student illnesses.” She proceeded to comment on the most common illnesses the staff at the Health Center treated. “The majority of the visits in January were for flu, ‘flu-like’ illness and gastrointestinal illness.” In addition, she noted, the nurses also administered many tests for strep throat and mononucleosis.

Harrison spoke about the time stress that increased student visits put on the Health Center staff. “Student visits don’t get any shorter, so what does happen sometimes is that the waiting time to see a staff person gets longer,” she said. “We try not to let this happen, but sometimes it does.”

Nargis Sakhibova ’12 suffered flu-like symptoms and sought comfort from the Health Center. “I called Campus Security and asked them to give me a ride to the Health Center because it is so far away from my dorm, and I had a fever,” Sakhibova said. “When I got there I was seen immediately by a really nice nurse. She gave me a package with medication and lots of tea.”

Harrison recommended that students remember to continue taking precautions for the remainder of the cold months. “The Health Center still has some flu vaccines available,” she said. “It does take about two weeks to develop immunity, but the Center for Disease Control advises administering the vaccine through the spring.”

In the meantime, however, Harrison provided advice for avoiding the need for Health Center visits. “Wash your hands frequently, try to get enough rest, stay hydrated, eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly and avoid sharing food and drinks,” she said.