From the rubble that was the former headquarters of the Press & Sun-Bulletin, a private alternative to the Decker Student Health Services Center that will offer students primary care in addition to walk-in appointments is emerging.
United Health Services, the Southern Tier’s largest health care provider, began work Feb. 5 on its new Vestal primary care site at 4417 Vestal Parkway E, directly across from campus. According to a UHS press release, the project will cost an estimated $29 million and include primary care, a breast center, imaging, pediatrics and a pharmacy, among other services that would be provided when the center opens in July 2012.
Christina Boyd, vice president of community relations for UHS, said the walk-in center, currently located at 4401 Vestal Parkway E, will also move to the new address. Boyd said she feels that although the existing walk-in center should already serve students’ needs during Decker Student Health Services Center’s off-hours, the new center will entice student patients because of the addition of the pharmacy.
“The walk-in center is the real story here,” Boyd said. “Most students still don’t know about it, even though it’s been around for a while.”
UHS is open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at its current location. The campus health center has walk-in hours from 8 to 11 a.m. and has appointment hours from 1 to 4:45 p.m.
“I’m a mom of two, ages 13 and 16, and they never get sick at a convenient time,” Boyd said. “I was just at the walk-in center the other day myself. The good thing for students is that they usually accept any major insurance.”
As an added benefit, Boyd said negotiations with Off Campus College Transport were underway to build a blue bus stop at the center and that a walkway similar to the one spanning Bunn Hill Road across Vestal Parkway may be a solution to travel issues.
Melanie McCullough, a freshman majoring in English, said she is open to the idea of seeing a doctor off campus, but not without reliable transportation.
“We have a pretty good bus system. If the bus went there, though, I’d definitely take advantage of it,” McCullough said.
Tran Cao, a junior majoring in biology, said she is satisfied with the care she has received at Decker Student Health Services Center and would most likely not utilize the new UHS location.
“Since I’m an international student, health services really goes out of the way to accommodate me. When I went in for an eye infection, they called me a few days after to check to make sure I was OK,” she said.
Unless she planned on remaining in Binghamton after graduation, Cao said she would not use the primary care center over the walk-in clinic. She felt that since most students do not know the difference between the types of care, walk-in appointments were easier.
Boyd described primary care as “a place where you have a specific doctor from soup to nuts” and that all walk-in center doctors are equally qualified as those in primary care, but do not take pre-scheduled appointments.
She also said Decker Student Health Services Center welcomed UHS to Vestal and that it was excited for its extended hours and care beyond the University’s means. Neither Decker Student Health Services Center nor University spokeswoman Gail Glover returned phone calls or e-mails regarding the opening.