Health services move online

Health services move online

McKenna Scherer, News Reporter

Winona State University continues to offer health and counseling appointments to students during the COVID-19 epidemic.

Winona State’s Health and Wellness Services clinic, which offers services such as primary care and mental health support, now provides said services online.

]March 18, Winona State’s Health and Wellness Services began “Telehealth” appointments, but is still providing on-site appointments as needed.

Following an extended spring break, the university decided to shut down most of campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic and moved all in-person classes online, prompting health services to move online too.

Katie Jensen, health and wellness promotion coordinator, said that in-person appointments are now only available on Friday mornings with essential staff members.

In-person appointments require scheduling ahead of time to determine if meeting face-to-face is necessary.

Kateri Johnson, the director of counseling, said that students who were receiving mental health counseling prior to spring break have all been contacted about continuing through online means or phone call check-ins.

Johnson said that some students have decided they will no longer continue their counseling services, while others have begun using the virtual Telehealth platform to continue.

Students may still request telecounseling appointments online.

As was usual prior to the pandemic, appointments can be covered by insurance with remaining fees charged to the student’s school account.

Students facing payment conflicts can discuss other options with Health and Wellness Services staff.

“Health and Wellness Services will continue to meet the student’s health care needs as best we can to protect the health of our students and staff,” Jensen said.

Winona State also offers an Ask-a-Nurse phone line for students, providing them an opportunity to ask questions and speak directly to a nurse on campus.

Joyce Peckover, registered nurse practitioner at the clinic, runs the phone line alongside seeing scheduled patients.

“The line is still being used but is not as busy as it is when students are on campus,” Peckover said. “The calls have primarily been about health issues other than COVID-19 although there have been a few calls about COVID-19 specifically.”

The Ask-a-Nurse line is still available Monday through Friday each week from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. as it was prior to most of campus closing.

However, Peckover said that the phone line will now always go straight to message as she works from home and will return phone calls as she receives them.

The 2019-20 school year was the last for Peckover after 11 years at Winona State, as she will retire on May 8.

Jensen also said that transitioning to Telehealth appointments has went well for staff members and students seem have responded well.

The Health and Wellness Services social media has begun posting more, especially on Facebook, as they aim to spread “good public health information” during this time.

“Although [we] miss the energy that being on campus provides, [we] also appreciate that services can be continued to support students from our homes,” Jensen said.

Jensen said Health and Counseling Services will continue to be available to students through online methods as long as they are needed.

 

The opinions expressed in this paper are not necessarily those of Winona State University, the Minnesota State Colleges and University system, or the Winona State University student body.