Healthy living under Dome begins behind it
By COURTNEY KERRIGAN
Not too many people feel the need to venture beyond the Main Building. The Dome, which has served as a source of inspiration and high aspirations to many Domers, symbolizes the top of the hill of success. However, University Health Services and the Counseling Center occupy a little-known part of the Notre Dame campus — the area behind the Dome.
Making their homes in a tan-colored building with a green tower, Health Services and the Counseling Center are two of those gems of Notre Dame no one seems to want to learn about. Who would? After all, it's like a mini-hospital, and hardly anyone is fond of hospitals.
But surprisingly enough, Health Services is quite comfortable, lacking that famous hospital smell and complete with almost anything to handle a crisis a typical college student might run into. Walking into the Health Services building, one might feel a little lost, even apprehensive about what they might find there. But the atmosphere is rather inviting, surprisingly cheerful and positive, considering most people who are here have come because of some type of health problem.
The halls and rooms are impeccably clean and organized, much like those little examining rooms you would find at the pediatrician's office which most students have outgrown. The nurses are all friendly and eager to help and direct students to wherever they need to be. The doctors, though busy, are completely normal and definitely not to be feared.
Megan McMullen, a sophomore from Badin Hall who stayed at Health Services after being hit by a car, was treated by Dr. James Moriarty, a physician and chief of medicine at Health Services.
"Dr. Moriarty is very personable and friendly. He helped out a lot when I stayed there, and the nurses are awesome and really sweet," she said.
Located on the northern edge of campus, the Health Services building is near Keenan and Stanford Halls, behind the Dome — or rather, beyond the Dome — and St. Ed's Hall. It is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and closed only during vacations. Physicians are available for appointments and walk-ins from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and registered nurses are available 24 hours a day, in case of an emergency or any type of problem, small or large.
Health Services boasts many of the services a small community like Notre Dame would normally need. They have experience treating problems like mono, various sexually transmitted diseases, eating disorders, the chicken pox and sore throats. They also give allergy shots.
There is also a pharmacy, where prescription medications, over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies are available. A written prescription by a University physician can be filled at a local community pharmacy as well, using only a student ID card as payment. There is a laboratory and X-ray lab, both provided by local medical centers. The in-patient unit is located on the second floor, with visiting hours until 9 p.m. There are 14 beds available for students upon orders of a University physician. Overnight stays at the Health Center are free-of-charge for those living on campus, and are only a modest daily charge to off-campus students. There is also a medical services van that students take for non-emergency transportation to and from off-campus medical facilities. It runs from 12:15 to 5:30 p.m.
In the unfortunate case that one might need to venture beyond the Dome to make use of these services, the good news is that Notre Dame tuition covers initial visits to the Health Center, which could cost about $50 to $100 in the real world.
"The philosophy of the University has always been that it supports whatever it takes to keep a student in school and as well as they can be," said Ann Thompson, director of University Health Services.
However, students are responsible for the cost of lab tests, X-rays, injections (including allergy shots, the meningitis vaccination, etc.), medications, medical supplies, medical procedures and consultations with physicians, hospitalization or treatments outside University Health Services. There is also a student insurance program available, designed to supplement services provided at Health Services.
Health Services is also responsible for issues of wellness and programs around campus to educate students. "There is a student advisory committee that is working with issues of education that might appeal to the students," explained Thompson.
They also work closely with the Office of Alcohol and Drug Education, located in LaFortune Student Center, and Campus Security, which is separate from Health Services, but intervenes when there are medical issues with students.
Currently, Health Services is working on organizing new programs aimed at eating disorders. Thompson is working on this new project first-hand.
"It will be up to the students that need some assistance to come to us, and we will get them in a program of treatment and support to help them," she said. "We also want to provide education for peers and for the friends of people with eating disorders because although not all students who need help are going to come in for treatment, we need to support the students who live with these kids."
Thompson stresses that although Health Services and the Counseling Center are separate entities that usually complement and support each other, they will be coming together to work on the issue of eating disorders at Notre Dame.
The University Counseling Center (UCC), which provides counseling and psycho-educational services to students and doctoral training for students in the Psychology Counseling Program, is located on the third floor of the Health Services building. Although the work that goes on there is not quite of the same nature as that of the two floors beneath it, the atmosphere is still just as cheerful and inviting. Problems students bring to the center may be more emotionally charged, but the staff of 25 is quite capable of handling the many issues Notre Dame students come to them for. They are involved not only in service but in research and training as well.
The Counseling Center provides a broad range of professional services in group or individual settings for developmental, environmental and remedial needs of students. The staff at UCC, made up of psychologists, counselors, social workers and a nutritionist, is dedicated to helping students overcome or deal with all sorts of emotional problems. Confidentiality is a big deal at the Counseling Center, and it's taken very seriously.
"Students are afraid to talk to us about issues that might violate du Lac, but in the case of an emergency or a crisis, things like that can be dealt with," said Rita Donley, assistant director at the Counseling Center.
The Counseling Center is responsible for many on-campus activities as well. "We do presentations in classes, awareness weeks, RA training in the dorms, crisis intervention; we've confronted campus ministry about gay and lesbian issues; we've done various studies on eating disorders," said Donley. "And aside from all the public activities, we also see about eight to 10 percent of the student body to help them deal with their own or others' problems.
"Although some of the students we see come in for depression and other major problems, we also can help students deal with normal everyday problems, such as transitioning from high school to college, roommate difficulties, relationships. The problem is that most people wait until it's a huge problem," she added.
"Many students who visit the Counseling Center come because they feel different, typically students of diversity, whether it be economical, racial, religious or even a unique personality. We help these students figure out who they are and validate their feelings," Donley said.
The UCC has the resources to help students with all kinds of difficulties they might face. It has groups and individual sessions to remedy problems that are rather minor, like stress management, time management, academic difficulties and life and career planning. For the student with more personal issues, there is assistance for interpersonal relationships, exploration of values, personal growth and well-being, social and sexual differences, self-esteem problems and vocational guidance.
The staff of the UCC is also qualified to handle dilemmas relating to loss and grief, anxiety, depression, alcohol and drug abuse and eating disorders. However, this doesn't limit the capabilities of the Counseling Center in any way.
"Students who are having small problems now should seek help while the problems are still manageable," said Donley. "If they don't feel that the Counseling Center can help them, the staff here will refer you to people in the community."
The Counseling Center and University Health Services exist for the benefit of the students; they really want to make life as manageable and enjoyable as possible. If need be, a visit to either of these establishments would only help make any situation easier to deal with. So if you are one of those people who has been avoiding the University Health Services at all costs, take the next step. Dare to venture beyond the Dome.
All Scene Stories for Monday, November 8, 1999