When junior Jenn Erl went in to Health Services last week to check on her prescription, she learned that not only did she have to file paperwork to have her records transferred from Order of Saint Francis (OSF) but that she could no longer renew the prescription with Health Services, now under Cottage Hospital.
“I plan on just transferring my prescription to my primary doctor in my hometown,” Erl said. “The thing is, I’m lucky enough to have access to a primary doctor in my hometown, not all students here have that.”
The transition took place over the summer. However, Vice President for Student Development Anne Ehrlich said in an interview with TKS that the hiring interview took place in December 2015. The change was motivated by OSF’s limitations on the reproductive health services offered due to them being a Catholic organization.
“Since before I started this job, when I came to interview here, starting that early, I’ve heard feedback from students that they wanted a change and they wanted a health service provider that was able to provide all of the services that college students need. Including reproductive health service on campus,” Ehrlich said.
OSF could not discuss all the options available to students with unplanned pregnancies or discuss birth control options. Knox has previously used Family Planning for reproductive health care. Knox has maintained its contract with the off-campus Family Planning.
Beyond the inclusion of on-campus reproductive health care, Ehrlich said that the hospital has already been committed to college student health. Having locations in town means that students who need access to health services outside of the on-campus hours. The search included providers in Peoria and the Quad Cities too.
Junior Rachel Watson has been using Health Services as her primary care provider. She too went in last week only to be told that she needed to have her files transferred before she could even talk to a Health Services staff member about her prescription. So she filled out the transfer paperwork and left.
When she followed up a few days later, she learned that Health Services had not given OSF their fax number and that therefore her records were being mailed, which would take two weeks. Watson was not able talk to anyone about the prescription, she is not sure she will even be able to get it.
Staff members told Erl that they would be unable to prescribe some psychological medications, but that they could not specify which to her.
“It might be one of the ones that they can’t refill. And I don’t have a primary doctor so I would have to find one quickly, I guess,” Watson said.
According to an email statement provided by Ehrlich, taking records with them when they move is normal practice for health care providers. Students will need to sign a release form for Cottage to receive the records from OSF.
Director of Counseling Services Janell McGruder said in an email that the records issues did not affect Counseling Services because they keep separate records than Health Services despite being in the same location.
One goal for Cathy Taylor, the Nurse Practitioner now leading the Health Services team, is to offer education sessions. She will base the topics off of what she sees interest in from students. Counseling Services already offers a similar program already.
“Counseling Services will continue to provide outreach to students, faculty and staff,” McGruder told TKS in an e-mail.
Taylor is originally from Ohio and has both a doctorate of nursing and an engineering degree. She has been living and working in Arizona but is excited to now be living back closer to her family.
“Moving made me closer to my family. Like I said I was in Arizona and my family is in Kentucky and I have family in Ohio and family in Georgia. So this brought me closer to my family,” Taylor said. “Before I was over 2,900 miles away, so this brings me a whole lot closer.”
For now, Watson and Erl are still confused and uncertain of what they will do in regards to healthcare while at school. Watson could not even discuss her medication with a health care provider until her records come through.
“It was just very shocking to me. I was like, ‘you don’t even need to give me more medication, I just want to talk to someone about what I’m taking,’” she said.
Editor’s Note: Rachel Watson is a copy-editor. Sam Klingher contributed to reporting.