With this year’s record-breaking flu season in full swing, Binghamton University students are left with few options for medical care besides Decker Student Health Services Center, which can be inconvenient and impractical.
Although Decker holds walk-in hours every weekday from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., the Editorial Board believes this time frame is insufficient for students to obtain access to care. We understand there also needs to be times for scheduling appointments throughout the day, but holding walk-in hours so early in the morning — and for only three hours per day — is not adequate for students who need immediate medical care or are unable to schedule an appointment during the afternoon hours.
Many students have both morning and afternoon classes, and skipping class is not always an option. Sometimes, professors are unwilling to accept excuse notices from Decker. Of course, if a student thinks they have the flu, they should certainly prioritize seeing a doctor over going to class. Decker should generally extend its walk-in hours throughout the school year, and they should especially be extended during flu season to accommodate more students and to stop the spread of the virus. It can be difficult to get an appointment at Decker for the same day, especially since the center is only open until 5 p.m., and sick students should not have to wait to obtain medical care.
Moreover, Decker is not open on weekends, which poses another major problem. Of course, United Health Services (UHS) Vestal, which is located on Vestal Parkway right across from the University, has walk-in hours on weekends, but many students do not have appropriate transportation to get there, even though it’s so close to campus. There are no Off Campus College Transport buses that service UHS directly from campus, forcing sick students to walk if they can’t drive. Especially with this year’s flu outbreak, students should have access to medical care on campus on weekends.
The Editorial Board also questions why Decker only provides a few medications to students on-site, rather than filling all prescriptions on site. For example, students who are prescribed antiviral medications, such as Tamiflu, must pick up the prescription at a pharmacy off campus, which poses numerous problems. Transportation becomes an issue — students who are sick with the flu should not have to take public buses to pick up their medication if they don’t have a car. Often, the flu can be so debilitating that it’s almost impossible to leave campus to pick up medication without the help of a friend. At the very least, antiviral medication should be available at Decker during flu season.
Furthermore, the University announced on Tuesday via B-Line that Decker would be distributing free cold and flu packs for students battling the virus. The announcement states, “Orders can be placed on the Decker Student Health Services website, and the pack will be delivered right to your campus mailbox.” While this is convenient and beneficial, the packs are already on back order after one day, and students should be able to pick up these packs at Decker as well, rather than just having them delivered. The service does not appear to be available for students who do not have a campus mailbox.
Overall, Decker does not provide BU students with sufficient access to care. The short walk-in hours and lack of appointments during the day conflict with students’ schedules, and it can be exceedingly difficult to obtain medical care. The flu season has only made this more apparent.
To stop the spread of the flu this year, and to provide adequate care in general, Decker should extend its hours on weekdays and stay open on weekends. We’re sick of Decker’s inconvenient policies. If the University wants to ensure the health of tens of thousands of students, it needs to make some changes.