September 26, 2014

UAB celebrates grand opening of Student Health and Wellness Center

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new student centerUAB President Ray Watts addresses the crowd in the lobby of the newly renovated Student Health and Wellness Center.The University of Alabama at Birmingham held a grand opening Monday to celebrate an important institutional milestone with a ceremony in a newly renovated space that houses a Student Health and Wellness Center dedicated to the health, counseling and wellness needs of students.

The facility consolidates Student Health Services and Counseling and Wellness Center services, which were formerly at two locations. The center includes 23,000 square feet of space dedicated to the health, counseling and wellness needs of UAB students. By contrast, the combined space of the two former locations was just over 4,100 square feet.

UAB President Ray L. Watts addressed a crowd in the lobby of the newly renovated space, conveniently located near residence halls in the heart of the UAB campus at 1714 Ninth Ave. South, and he underscored the importance of the new center as UAB continues to grow. With six straight years of record overall enrollment, the student population reached 18,698 this semester.

“As an institution renowned for both academic and medical excellence, UAB promotes health and wellness as key parts of a quality education and our overall student experience,” Watts said. “This facility is critical to our mission to best serve the needs of our student body.”

Demand for health and counseling services has risen more than 30 percent since 2012 — to more than 15,000 from 12,000. UAB Student Health and Wellness Executive Director M. Jacob Baggott, MLS, 1SG (R) USAR, expects demand for services housed in the new facility to continue to grow.

“The numbers will continue to rise because the more convenient location will enhance awareness and accessibility,” Baggott said. “We will also continue to implement tools to make it easier for students to utilize services.”

wellness center 2An electronic health records system was launched during the Student Health and Wellness Center soft opening in August, and a portal through which students can schedule appointments online launched this week.

Provost Linda Lucas says such services are critical to supporting a student’s academic endeavors.

“As Ernest Boyer stated in his Special Carnegie Foundation Report, Campus Life: In Search of Community, ‘Wellness is a prerequisite to all else. Students cannot be intellectually proficient if they are physically or psychologically unwell,’” Lucas said. “The opening of this fabulous new center signifies, in a very meaningful and visible manner, that UAB is committed to providing all of our students access to high-quality, comprehensive and integrated medical, psychological and health promotion services and programs in a state-of-the-art facility.”

The facility is equipped to give students the full range of primary care, including appointments with health care providers, routine diagnostic lab testing and X-ray services.

“Additionally, the Student Health and Wellness Center will be offering health education and promotion programming on a full range of topics important to the success of students,” Baggott said.

Health Services medical clinic and Counseling Services are by appointment only, although Counseling Services is prepared to respond to crisis circumstances.

“The medical clinic instituted an open-access appointment system that offers students appointments on the day they call. The idea is to take care of today’s needs today. Students are busy, so we want to try to meet their needs when they arise.”

“The medical clinic instituted an open-access appointment system that offers students appointments on the day they call,” Baggott said. “The idea is to take care of today’s needs today. Students are busy, so we want to try to meet their needs when they arise.”

Counseling services are provided at no cost to students. Visits with a physician or nurse practitioner are free also. If diagnostic testing is recommended, those charges are billable to students’ insurance or to the students themselves, if they prefer. The clinic accepts most major insurance plans, including VIVA, and the student insurance offered through UAB.

The center also will provide training opportunities for medical residents. Michael Faircloth, M.D., serves as the medical director on-site.

Read more about UAB Student Health and Wellness and tour the new facility online.

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