Proposed Health Fee Putting Students First

February 15, 2007 - Posted at 5:57 p.m. CST  

JONESBORO, AR -- Sick ASU students may have to take a number if they want to get medical help on campus...the school has four employees to cover 10,000 students.  Arkansas State is one of only a few universities in the country without a student health fee, but a proposed resolution could make getting health care on campus easier and more efficient.

Even when there's not a flu outbreak - Lisa Shefelton stays extremely busy. She's the director of the student health center.

"We have about 1800 kids coming through the front door, 1500 phone calls a month and we can see on average anywhere from 700 to 800 kids a month," said Shefelton.

If the Student Government Association passes a proposed $30 dollar per semester fee could mean shorter lines at the ASU Health Center.

"If we did have a student health fee, we would be able to waive some of the out of pocket costs the students do have to occur, but in addition, we would have more available slots.  More nurses, another nurse practitioner and just be able to see more kids and be able to take care of them more efficiently," said Shefelton.

The center does more than just hand out flu shots...they are involved in health promotions on campus, sorority and fraternity presentations and parent orientation and is the medial unit leader for the campus in case of a disaster.

"It's not just handing out ibuprofen or Tylenol.  we have kids who are coming in here that are being diagnosed with leukemia, testicular cancer, breast cancer, heart failure or asthma attacks," said Shefelton.

The University of Central Arkansas is very comparable to ASU...and at a health fee of $65 per semester; they accommodate about as many students on a $1.3 million dollar budget and employee about three times the amount of people.  ASU just wants half that.

"The mission of the campus is to retain students to make sure we have a facility available so they do not have drive two hours, three hours, four hours to go back home because they are ill," said Shefelton.

The proposed health fee would generate about $660,000 a year for the health clinic and one of the first things scheduled is to reopen the school's pharmacy.