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Fair, clinic stress knowledge as key to health

Photo by: Zachary D. Elick

Photo credit: Zachary D. Elick

Photo by: Zachary D. Elick
Written by: Zachary D. ElickMarch 01, 2017

College is where many students get their first taste of independence. Yet, the downside can often be getting acquainted with the tedious, but important, aspects of adult life, such as knowing the ins and outs of your medical insurance plan.

“It’s so important for students — especially because (they) are just kind of getting new to the whole insurance thing (because their) parents have always taken care of it before — to understand their plan,” said Jennifer Gebert, office coordinator of the IPFW Center for Healthy Living Campus Clinic.

Located in the Walb Student Union, room 234, the Campus Clinic provides students, staff and community members health care services similar to a small doctor’s office. Open Monday through Friday, clinic hours are 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., with a 30-minute break for lunch noon – 12:30 p.m, Gebert said.

One of the reasons it is important for students understand their insurance plan is because it helps them, as well as the clinic, assess what procedures they can or cannot afford, Gebert said. The clinic is able to help students with the bills from their visit using money allocated by the Indiana Purdue Student Government Association specifically for this purpose. But, since the clinic wants the allocation to last all year, they try to only use it when the help is absolutely necessary, she said.

“We make it last because there’s a fine line between the you can’t pay or you don’t want to pay. We try to use it for those students who cannot pay,” said Rachel Emshwiller, nursing student and patient care technician at the clinic. “I mean, I don’t want to pay a $25 bill, but I can … so we try to use it for those that legitimately cannot pay, so we can help them.”

A common insurance plan issue affecting students, Gebert said, is having a high deductible, which is the amount an insured person must pay before their insurance takes care of the rest of their claim.

Along with physical examinations, medical prescriptions and immunizations, the clinic also offers a variety of lab work and screening tests for various ailments and conditions, Gebert said.

“(Students) can be seen for a wide range of things. They can be seen for (illnesses), like coughs, colds, sore throats, urinary tract infections, simple things like that,” she said. “Or we can also do chronic disease management such as (for) diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol … things of that nature.”

Being nurse-managed, the clinic employs three nurse practitioners and two patient care technicians, both of whom are students, Gebert said. Unlike most nurses working in hospitals, nurse practitioners are required to obtain a master’s degree, which gives them the ability to write prescriptions and have more of a capacity to make diagnoses.

“Doctors learn how to take care of patients very differently from nurses … Where a lot of times doctors are there to address a specific problem, or a specific disease pattern that is going on with the patient, nurses kind of look at the whole body,” Gebert said. “(Nurses) are social. They’re mental. You know, everything combines. That’s the big difference that I’ve noticed.”

The clinic accepts walk-ins, yet appointments can be made by calling 260-481-5748.

Organizers of Health Fair Aims for Students to be ‘Empowered’

 

Besides helping students receive clinic services, the IPSGA also allocates money to IPFW Health and Wellness to put on different health events throughout the year. By far, their biggest health event is its annual Health Fair, said Judy Tillapaugh, fitness/wellness coordinator for IPFW Health and Wellness.

The 28th annual IPFW Health Fair will be from 8:30 a.m. to  3 p.m. March 22 on the first floor of Walb Student Union. This year’s theme for the fair is “Be Empowered! Take charge of your health!”

“We want more individuals — students faculty, staff, and community members — to have more confidence, to have more knowledge, so they can go out and be more consumers of their health care,” Tillapaugh said.

Over 90 campus and off-campus vendors will be at the fair to help educate people about their health and provide health resources.Some of the vendors include Fort 4 Fitness, the IPFW Nursing Department, IPFW Biology department, the Bowen Center and the Breast Diagnostic Center, Tillapaugh said.

An important resource being offered will be numerous free health screenings, which for the first time be held in the Walb Classic Ballroom. The screenings will cover factors such as bone density, blood pressure, blood sugar, body fat, HIV, depression, heart disease risk, and sexual health, Tillapaugh said.

The full blood health profile screening is the only one that costs money: $14 for IPFW students and employees and $28 for everyone else. A 12-hour fast before the screening is also required.

Tillapaugh encouraged people coming to the fair to take advantage of as many of the free and discounted screenings as they can.

“Our health status is not just one factor. So, it’s important not to get just one screening, but get a collection of screenings, so then,  you got a better summary of what your health is,” Tillapaugh said. “That weight number is only a weight number. It doesn’t tell you anything about the factors in your blood … it’s not gonna tell you anything about what your liver enzymes are.”

Stress is another aspect of health that Tillapaugh said is really important for college students to take into account.

“We know this time in the life of students can be stressful. There’s a lot of things that you are juggling and there’s a lot of things that you are doing. But there are things that you can learn about, things that you can do that really make a difference,” Tillapaugh said.

At the fair, there will be 20-25 tables devoted to mental health, including vendors such as Active Minds at IPFW, Parkview Behavioral Health and the IPFW Music Therapy Club, Tillapaugh said.