November marks two months since the Colby Health Center shifted operations to the Thayer Center of Health at MaineGeneral Hospital. Late fall also marks the start of cold and flu season, where there is increased demand for health services on campus. Now that the College has undergone this transition and students have been able to use its new services, the community has begun to reflect on the change.
“The complex decision to move Colby Health Services to MaineGeneral’s Thayer Center for Health was made after lengthy deliberations and thorough analysis by many stakeholders,” Colby Health Services said in a statement composed by representatives from the Colby Health Offices and MaineGeneral. They added, “…one benefit is the creation of our brand-new medical clinic, MaineGeneral College Health, which ensures Colby students get access to the same high-quality care, within the expanded setting and resources of MaineGeneral’s Thayer Center.” This has allowed them to increase the services they offer to students, including: “increased access for both nursing and provider visits, in comparison to this time last year, and we offer lab services and many vaccines.”
In previous years, all health services were located in the Garrison-Foster building on campus. Now, Garrison-Foster is only used for counseling services, over-the-counter medication, and prescription pickup through the Oakland Pharmacy, with all other wellness services located off-campus in the Thayer Center.
However, the shift has seen mixed reception from students in regard to the accessibility of the new system. One anonymous student, who sustained an injury off-campus, sought care at the health center and was directed to the MaineGeneral Emergency Room, said that she had to wait over 40 minutes each way for security to escort her to and from the center. “It took another hour and a half to be able to check in because their systems were down,” she said, noting, “In that waiting time, a woman verbally harassed and threatened me, and I felt unsafe.” She spent over six hours in MaineGeneral and noted that “it was anxiety-inducing to not be given much information regarding timeline or the intention behind the scans they were conducting.”
The student noted that her experience at MaineGeneral “illuminated existing divides on campus” because she did not have access to a car and had to rely on security to escort her on short notice. “It’s frustrating that there is no possibility for even a preliminary evaluation on campus, and that the hospital is the only option,” she said, adding, “Athletes can see an on-campus trainer, but that’s not possible for me as a non-athlete.” For this student, the promise of higher-quality services at MaineGeneral was overshadowed by the delays in receiving care. Colby Health Services followed up with this student after her visit and received her feedback.
Colby Health Services mentioned in a statement that “the Thayer Center is less than one mile from Colby’s campus” and for planned appointments, “free transportation is available for all students via the Colby Jitney van and campus shuttle service.”
Health Services has created a new staff position to help ease the transition between the health centers: the Director of Student Wellness & Health Resources. Health Services noted in a statement, “The Director of Student Wellness & Health Resources will ensure the bridge between the Colby community and MaineGeneral College Health is as strong and easy to navigate as possible, and the Director will provide direct support to students with all aspects of using this new system.” Another incoming addition to health services includes the creation of a student wellness center in Garrison Foster as “an added resource for student relaxation and wellbeing,” Health Services noted.
“Since we are always seeking to enhance our offerings, we are also currently developing a feedback survey to solicit student perspectives on their experience accessing care in our new clinic. We will use this feedback to inform our strategies going forward,” said Health Services in a statement. Though there may be some kinks in the new system, Health Services is receptive to student feedback and notes, “Colby is working hard to support the health and wellbeing of all students.”
~ Megan Garland `27