The Biology Greenhouse is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Cox Health and Counseling Center is open from Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. This means students can spend more hours per week caring for their plants than they can for their bodies.
This is not to pick on the Greenhouse — it is an important facility that should be open and accessible to students. But so should health care services. The Health Center’s hours amount to 42.5 hours per week, which means the Health Center is closed for nearly 75 percent of the hours in a week. The Collegian writes this staff editorial this week so the visiting Board of Trustees is aware of this critical issue: Kenyon needs to prioritize expanding the hours of operation for the health care center.
Last week, Jess Kusher ’19 wrote an op-ed in the Collegian about her recent experience with vertigo. Dizzy and in need of care, Kusher was faced with two options: “Call 911 and have our fire department take [her] to the Knox Community Hospital, or do nothing,” because it was a Sunday, and the Health Center was closed. A trip to Knox Community Hospital can be costly, as students must pay for treatment as well as transportation to and from the facility. Students cannot control when they might get hurt or sick. Injuries and illnesses arising at 5 p.m. on a Friday should not cost more than they would have an hour earlier.
The Health Center is not to blame for their hours. The College employs wonderful practitioners to help students, and they are clearly an invaluable resource in our community when they are available. The College has also made strides toward improving mental health services after the doors at the Cox Center shut. In the Jan. 26, 2017 issue, the Collegian reported that the Health Center would begin using a service called ProtoCall, which would provide students with mental health care after hours. The College also offers a 24-hour nurse practitioner on call. But ProtoCall and the nurse practitioner on call — a resource many students do not know about — are not enough to address students’ health care concerns. We need a Health Center that is open for longer, and that is open on weekends.
If this sounds like a hackneyed argument to you, that is because it is. This has been a conversation students have had for years. The problem is evident and impacts our lives directly. The Collegian has long covered the issue: A news article in the Nov. 12, 2015 issue reported on students’ concerns about limited hours. A year and a half after that article, many of those concerns still significantly impact students.
The College needs to prioritize students’ health, and trustees should use their influence to pressure our administration to do so. The College evidently does not have the resources — or has chosen not to allocate the resources — to provide students with health care outside the weekday hours of 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Administrators find more practitioners and expand hours so students can access reliable health care without accruing the hefty costs of off-campus medical facilities. We deserve a facility that we can use more than 25 percent of the time.