Beginning this fall, students will no longer be able to go to their Community Advisors (CAs) for medical supplies like ibuprofen or throat lozenges.
Director of Housing and Residential Life (ResLife) Jill Engel-Hellman and Director of Health Services Kim Cullers decided to remove first aid kits from CA emergency supplies after determining the cost to maintain them was not worthwhile considering how infrequently they are used. The move to eliminate the kits reflects ResLife’s greater focus on emphasizing the role of CAs as guides to campus resources — like Campus Safety or the Health Center — rather than as the providers of these resources. CAs will still provide bandages for minor scrapes and cuts, according to Engel-Hellman.
“We started to think about the primary roles of a CA, and first aid responder is really not one of them, and so we want to be very clear with students and say if you’re not feeling well, you should get advice from someone who is medically trained,” Engel-Hellman said. “We don’t want CAs giving medical advice.”
Before Engel-Hellman came to the College, CAs were CPR- and first aid-certified, but this ended after ResLife decided the training could not be maintained as rigorously as the qualifications demand, according to Engel-Hellman.
Pranav Mulpur ’19, a CA in McBride Residence Hall, agreed that it should not be a CA’s role to provide medical aid.
“Beyond the economic and efficiency side of things, there’s also a thing CAs are taught during training — we aren’t supposed to be the Health Center and the Counseling Center and Campus Safety,” Mulpur said. “Our job is to be the flight controller that directs people to these different resources. That’s our main job.”
The CA first aid kits contain gauze, bandages, tape, fever and pain reducers and throat lozenges, among other medical supplies for treating basic injuries. The cost to maintain the kits is incalculable because these supplies are taken from the Health Center’s stock, according to Cullers.
“We have found that many kits were not being utilized and returned to us with very few items missing, and the medications — like Tylenol, ibuprofen, throat lozenges, Neosporin and antacids — do have expiration dates, so that is concerning to us,” Cullers wrote in an email to the Collegian. “It also puts the CA in a potentially uncomfortable or unsafe position by giving medical advice, or providing medication without proper training or education.”
Cullers added that many of the supplies found in the kits can be purchased from the Bookstore or Village Market.
ResLife’s decision to remove CAs’ first aid kits is a move toward encouraging students to be more self-sufficient and to prepare students for life post-graduation, according to Engel-Hellman.
“We’re trying to send a message of do with, and not do for,” Engel-Hellman said. “As people are graduating from college, there’s not going to be someone on your floor who’s going to give you Tylenol every time you’re not feeling well, and that’s something we want people to learn.”
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