Amidst a pandemic and an increase in the number of students experiencing mental health struggles, Loyola’s Wellness Center is in high demand.
The Wellness Center saw a 11% increase in the number of students seeking counseling services from two years ago, according to Director of counseling David deBoer.
Approximately 500 students use the Wellness Center for medical, mental health, or nutritional services each week, according to Wellness Center Director Joan Holden.
Every Loyola student, regardless of their insurance plan or student status, can take advantage of most resources offered at the Wellness Center with the exception of teletherapy, which isn’t available to non-Illinois residents, according to Mira Krivoshey, the Wellness Center’s Assistant director for health promotion services.
The Wellness Center located in Lake Shore Campus’ Granada Center and Water Tower Campus’ Terry Student Center are both open Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., according to its website.
Given the number of services available to students at the Wellness Center, it can be difficult for students to find the appropriate resources to address their concerns or figure out who to reach out to for help.
To make it easier for students to receive assistance with any health issues they’re experiencing, The Phoenix broke down the services offered at the Wellness Center.
Medical services such as immunizations, routine medical care and Dial-A-Nurse are commonly used at the Wellness Center, according to deBoer. Additional services include evaluation and treatment for acute conditions, referrals for specialists, lab testing, tuberculosis screening and gynecological exams.
While the Wellness Center offers some medical resources, it doesn’t provide dental services, annual physical exams, allergy shots, prescriptions for oral contraceptives, medical excuse forms or medication.
A physician, six nurses and four advanced practice nurses work at the Wellness Center, according to Wellness Center Director Joan Holden. The staff evaluates and treats acute illnesses such as infections, headaches and abdominal pain among other acute conditions.
A gynecologist or nurse practitioner provides pelvic and breast exams, pap smears and testing for chlamydia. Registered nurses help students with scheduling appointments, inform students of positive test results and recommend care services.
In addition to testing for chlamydia, the Wellness Center also administers testing for gonorrhea, syphilis, trichomoniasis, human papillomavirus, herpes simplex virus, hepatitis and HIV, according to its website.
Students can only make in-person medical appointments by calling Dial-A-Nurse at 773-508-8883 since walk-ins aren’t accepted. Phone consultations for medical purposes can be scheduled through Open Communicator.
Students insured by Loyola who need urgent, non-life threatening medical care can contact 480-779-4360 or use Healthiest You when the Wellness Center isn’t open.
Mental Health Services
Students experiencing emotional distress or struggling with their mental health can receive short-term psychotherapy and psychiatric services from the Wellness Center. deBoer said students often use the Wellness Center for individual therapy, group therapy and for community referrals.
After students reach out to the Wellness Center, a mental health professional will assess their mental health concerns, recommend care services and assist students with scheduling appointments. Six psychologists and eight counselors provide psychotherapy and counseling, respectively, according to deBoer. A psychiatric nurse practitioner and psychiatrist prescribe and monitor medication for students in need, deBoer said.
The number of counseling sessions offered at the Wellness Center is determined by individual student assessment, but deBoer said students typically attend less than 10 sessions before they’re referred to services in the community.
To make an appointment for mental health assistance, students can schedule a phone consultation by calling 773-508-2530 or via Open Communicator. Students seeking urgent mental health assistance should call 773-508-2530 and dial option 3.
deBois said students typically get an appointment for a consultation within a week of reaching out, but may have to wait 2-4 weeks for a therapy appointment during peak times of the semester.
For students needing help with anything related to dietary health, the Wellness Center offers short-term counseling on weight management, meal planning, vitamin deficiencies and disordered eating among other dietary concerns. Nutrition counseling sessions last one hour and follow-up sessions are 45 minutes, though deBoer said students usually attend less than 10 sessions at the Wellness Center, according to deBoer.
While a single registered dietician provides nutrition counseling, an Eating Disorder Assessment and Treatment team comprising a mental health provider, medical provider and a registered dietician collectively evaluate and treat eating disorders. deBoer said the team generally helps students who are further along in recovery.
Students with an active eating disorder are referred to community resources, according to deBoer.
Nutrition counseling appointments can be scheduled by calling Dial-A-Nurse at 773-508-8883 or by using Open Communicator.
Since the Wellness Center only provides short-term care, a care manager at the Wellness Center can help students who need long-term care find appropriate services in the community. Mental health providers are also responsible in assisting students find services in the community.
deBoer said the care manager position has been vacant at the Wellness Center since August and the new care manager won’t join until late November. As of publication, only mental health providers are providing care management.
When selecting an appropriate service in the community for a student, mental health providers and/or a care manager considers a student’s needs, insurance plan, circumstances and identity- based factors, according to deBoer. Once an appropriate service is found, they will either send the contact information to the student or help them schedule a virtual or in-person appointment with a provider in the community.
In some cases, deBoer said a student who reaches out to the Wellness Center may be directly referred to services in the community if they’re assessed to need “more intense, specialty, or long-term care.” deBoer said he isn’t aware of the number of students who reach out to the Wellness Center who are referred to services in the community.
Since the Wellness Center services are included in the Student Development Services and Program Fees, most services are free of charge as long as students show up for their appointments or cancel at least three hours before — students who don’t should expect a $15 fee.
Students are, however, charged for lab tests and immunizations. Although students are charged for most lab tests, students can attend a HIV testing session every third Thursday of the month from 3-6p.m. to get tested for free. It should be noted that the free HIV tests are administered on a “first-come, first-served basis.”
The Wellness Center doesn’t accept or bill insurance.
Students who need to destress can hang with the Wellness Center therapy dog Ashlar every Tuesday and Wednesday in Information Commons at 11 a.m. He’s in the Damen Student Center on Thursdays at 10 a.m. and in the Sullivan Center Fridays at 11 a.m.
Students with COVID-19 symptoms can get tested at the Wellness Center.
Students who are 18 years or older shouldn’t worry about their parents or anyone else getting access to their medical information without their permission since medical records and Wellness Center visits are confidential and protected by HIPAA.
All visits are confidential for 17-year-olds too, however, they must receive parental consent to be treated at the Wellness Center unless the treatments or tests are associated with sexual activity or therapy, according to Krivoshey and deBoer. However, deBoer said parents of 17-year-olds are able to get access to counseling records.
Confidentiality could be waived if there is a court order or if someone is a harm to self or others, according to deBoer.
Correction: A version of this article misrepresented therapy dog Ashlar’s schedule. It has been corrected and we regret the error.