Understanding the Health Center
by Daniyah Wong | published Jan. 13th, 2020
I’m breathing. No need to worry about my health, right? I mean, with all the assignments that keep coming, I don’t have time to go to the Student Health Center (SHC). Do I even have access? These thoughts may be running through your mind while wrapped up in responsibilities, but they should not influence how you take care of your health.
The SHC is accessible to all RIT students, regardless of health insurance.
“Some students aren’t aware that they can come in [and that] they don’t have to have health insurance to be seen here; it is open for all students,” Lindsay Phillips said, the medical health director of the SHC.
Students with over 12 credits are automatically charged a fee for basic services, in-house laboratory work and office visits. Meanwhile, those with less credits or on co-ops can choose to pay by visit or for the semester. Additional charges are required for certain supplies, prescription medicines and immunizations. These can be purchased with cash, checks, Tiger Bucks, Visa and MasterCard.
To use your medical insurance, you can send a receipt of the services from the SHC to your insurance company requesting for reimbursement. RIT also has its own insurance, called the RIT Plan, which covers services such as hospitalization, emergency care and psychiatric care.
The SHC has a wide variety of assistance for your physical health, mental health, sexual health and general nutritional health.
Entrance to the SHC. Photo by Videet Kumar
In terms of physical health, common issues that are evaluated everyday in SHC are stomach aches, sore throats and infections. The SHC also hosts annual pop up events to make it easier for students to get the medical care that they need.
Allison Suarez Miranda, a fifth year Software Engineering student, has visited the SHC multiple times. She recommends that students make use of the SHC to keep track of their health.
"They'll have days where they'll have free testing, free flu shots — there's usually a day or week where people can come in and get those things done for free," she said.
Prescriptions, such as antibiotics, birth control and skin creams are also available at the SHC. While the type of medicine available may be limited, prescriptions for another type may be available upon request. Additional prescriptions can be requested at another pharmacy with the receipt from SHC or ordered from Wegmans for free delivery to the health center.
Physical health is not the only reason to visit the SHC. Various counseling and psychiatric options are also available to RIT students. The psychiatric services offered include evaluation, recommendations for treatment and prescriptions for and monitoring of psychiatric medications.
This is done in collaboration with staff from the Counseling and Psychological Services. They can also collaborate with your primary mental health provider as well. For long-term psychiatric care, RIT can connect you to a psychiatrist in the local community.
Concerning ADD/ADHD, there are no diagnostic evaluations at the SHC, but there are refills upon request if you are under ongoing care or have a letter explaining the history of treatment, medication name and dosage that is renewed annually.
As for sexual health, there is testing for sexually transmitted infections, sexual dysfunction and HIV. Routine screenings for cervical cancer and treatment of vaginal infections are also on the list of available services.
Counseling for both birth control and pregnancy are offered. Pregnancy confirmation is an option as well, along with general counseling on sexual and gender health. Additionally, their website offers resources for care and information in response to sexual assault.
While it is standard to visit your primary doctor three times a year, it is suggested to visit the SHC annually to be screened for STIs.
“There is a recommendation for everyone under the age of 25 to be screened annually for chlamydia, which is the most common STI that we routinely test for. It would be a reasonable suggestion to come to the health center or see your primary care doctor at least once a year [for the screening],” stated Phillips.
Lastly, you can meet with a registered dietitian for information regarding weight concerns, diabetes, digestive issues, eating disorders, unhealthy eating patterns and medical issues associated with nutrition. You can also talk to an experienced fourth year Nutrition and Dietetics student for general nutrition advice concerning healthy choices, meal planning and weight management.
It is recommended for you to consult your medical provider first before seeing a dietitian for medical concerns.
The SHC may seem intimidating, but the staff at the front desk are there to answer any general questions and guide you through scheduling your visit. Appointments are required for routine medical care as well as the women’s health care and psychiatric care special services. Appointments can be made in person, online or by phone at (585) 475-2255.
Remember to bring your student ID, insurance card if you have one and a list of current allergies or medications. It is suggested to write down a list of your medical concerns, so all issues are discussed.
You can also tell the staff assistant helping you that your issue is personal if you would rather not talk about it. You can also specify whether you prefer a male or female service provider and if you require interpreting services. If your issue is urgent, you can also request for it to be addressed as soon as possible.
Be warned, if you miss your appointment, you will have to pay a fee unless you cancel your appointment at least more than 24 hours before it occurs. The SHC does not offer medical excuses for missed classes, but a Release of Information form can be requested to share medical information with your professor.
“They do a lot to preserve confidential information, even if you're on your parents' insurance ... They ask you, 'do you want us to bill the insurance or do you want us to bill you directly?'" Miranda said.
The SHC is located in the August Center in Building 23-A, with an entrance near the dorms across from the Gordon Field House and Activities Center. Scheduling an appointment at the SHC will not take long and the staff are here to work with you.
"People in there really care about getting students the help they need. They usually give you a lot of information ... explaining the condition and ... what the medication would do," Miranda said.