Students could start paying upwards of $34 per term beginning this fall for health services, an increase that could mean moving the current health clinic and expanding its student-specific services.
The impending relocation of Dal Health Services to the LeMarchant mixed-use building is giving executive director of student wellness Verity Turpin a chance to envision how the new space can be used to improve the student experience.
“We’re working on going from a ‘health clinic’ model to a ‘student health clinic’ model,” Turpin explained during a presentation at the Dal Student Union (DSU) meeting on Jan. 29.
The current funding for Heath Services is a $10.80 slice of the $126.70 student services fee paid by full-time students each term, a fraction of what other university students pay. At McMaster, for example, students pay around $27.90 per term for health services.
Turpin proposed that the student union could charge between $19.05 and $34.90, which would allow them to hire a full-time nurse practitioner, a psychologist and a family doctor, all of whom would be reserved exclusively for Dal students.
“Our goal is to make students’ access to quality care a top priority,” says Turpin. “We want to make some additions that address specific needs we have identified in the community.”
According to survey data shown in the presentation, almost half of Dal students in 2012 had never been tested for sexually transmitted infections. A similar percentage hadn’t used condoms during their last intercourse.
Many voices from health services were present at the council meeting to talk about what the fee increase could bring to the new space.
“A nurse practitioner is able to perform screenings and prescribe medication based on positive results,” says Glenn Andrea, a physician with Dal Health. “Because they’re paid on salary, not only would a nurse practitioner be able to do mobile screenings at Sexton Campus and Studley Campus, they could focus on making information available to students.”
A major focus of the improvements also includes extending the counselling hours available to students. One aspect mentioned was the needs of international students and how their requests might be addressed by having a specialized counsellor involved.
The DSU was supposed to vote on whether they wanted to endorse the fee at the council meeting on Feb. 5, but the meeting was cancelled due to the weather. The vote will likely happen at the next council meeting. Dal’s board of governors will make their decision in April.