Every Fresno State student pays a mandatory $93 per semester for Health Center services as part of their registration fees. Even if a student receives financial aid that pays their fees, University Health Services is still paid for all students enrolled. This gives the center an annual budget of $4 million. What do students get in return?
“The way I define health services here at the university is that it’s pre-paid health care,” said Cathy Felix, director of Health and Psychological Services. “I think that if all students pay for this service they need to know about it.”
The Health Center is located on Keats between Barton and Campus Drive, just south of the Henry Madden Library. It is a fully-accredited ambulatory (i.e., walk-in) health care center open Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., except Wednesdays, when it opens at 9 a.m.
Felix has been in her position at the Health Center since October and was previously employed at Chico State. She has been taking informal polls among different student groups that she meets with asking how much students know about the Health Center. She has found that many don’t know where it’s located and are uninformed about the services that are open to every student.
And there are many. Need a basic CBC (Complete Blood Count) panel? It’s free. Need prescriptions filled at the lowest cost, even if they are prescribed by an outside doctor? They are much cheaper at the Health Center pharmacy because all medical supplies are purchased under state contracts, which are a lot cheaper than retail. And it’s not just prescription drugs. The pharmacy products from toothpaste and mouthwash to condoms sell at deep discounts as well.
Five of the top 10 mental health diagnoses at Fresno State are anxiety, depression, ADD, insomnia and stress. Students can walk in and get an appointment for help with these and other issues at the counseling center. Psychological services are free.
“Students assume that if it’s a health center only the ill and injured go in, but not really,” Felix said. “We make a push on campus for prevention and education, like from getting your flu shot early in September to practicing safe sex.”
Any student, female or male, can sign up for Family PACT (Family Planning Access to Care and Treatment) at the center and receive birth control, STI testing and 25 condoms without having to pay anything out of pocket.
Five of the top 10 medical diagnoses on campus are contraceptive issues, tuberculosis screenings, upper respiratory infections, allergies and general check-ups. There are four board-certified physicians and four licensed nurse practitioners — a total of eight providers. Students from nursing, public health and physical therapy are employed as interns at the Health Center.
There is also a full-service laboratory and full-service X-ray at the facility. To address the needs of those who have skin problems, a dermatologist is on staff every other week.
All of these services are at no extra charge outside of tuition. The only time a student has to pay anything is for items at the pharmacy or for a complicated lab test. In today’s medical climate, a regular doctor visit can cost in the $150 range. The $93 per semester for the Health Center starts to look like a bargain.
“We’ve never turned students away for lack of money,” Felix said. “If you have a prescription to be filled and you’re low on money we give them a promissory note for coming back within two weeks.”