By Nate Rieder
Last week I wrote about the numerous sizeable donations USC has received in recent years and how they seemed to be imprudent and selfish expenditures. To balance things out, I’ve decided to write about a recent multimillion-dollar contribution to USC that seems at long last to be aimed at a department that is actually in quite dire need.
I’m a pretty sick kid. I’ve been emergently hospitalized at least four times in no less than three different states. I have the kind of rare, esoteric disease that turns serious doctors into giddy school children when I mention it. I say all this not to engender sympathy or complain about my unfortunate medical history, but to establish that I’ve been around; I’ve seen a plethora of doctors all over the country and been the happy recipient and accidental victim of a wide range of standards of care. But nowhere in my travels have I encountered such inept, passive, bumbling fools as in the USC Student Health Center (this phrase won’t be capitalized for the rest of this post because I don’t feel that they deserve it). It seems like they just take the kids who weren’t going to graduate from USC Medical School and issue them diplomas with the stipulation that they have to work at student health for a reduced salary. This is the only plausible explanation I’ve been able to think of that accounts for the poor level of care and widespread apathy that plagues the tiny shack on 34th street referred to as the student health center (but for legal reasons I should emphasize that this is merely whimsical speculation).
Let’s move away from conjecture and on to fact (or at least anecdote):
1. I’ve heard from multiple female friends that they have stopped admitting to being sexually active when questioned at student health, because if they do admit this the doctors invariably trump any abdominal symptoms up to being the result of an STI or pregnancy. This may seem more of a nuisance than a serious health issue, but consider that I once complained of stomach pains at a different healthcare facility and – had I not had exploratory surgery – would have died of sepsis within the hour.
2. I was told by a friend today that he was mistakenly sent the results of a random persons sexual health screening tests. He called to make them aware of this error and they seemed fairly unconcerned (does anyone have the number for HIPPA?)
3. Last time I went there (for a nasty cold that wouldn’t go away) the nurse incorrectly noted on my chart that I was HIV positive. This led to a fairly awkward interaction between the doctor and I. Afterwards, the doctor quickly told me to drink fluids and that he would prescribe me an antibiotic. He rushed out of the room before I could inquire which antibiotic he was giving me, and I ended up with a Z-pack – a medication that has never been effective for me. As I left, a nurse told me that I might want to call the pharmacy in order to expedite the process of filling my order. I later found out that this is not quite the case. In actuality, the health center writes so many prescriptions without asking students if they actually want medicine that the pharmacy ends up with large stockpiles of prescriptions that never get picked up. As a result, the pharmacy will not even process a doctor’s prescription from the health center unless the patient calls to confirm that they actually want it. Of course, everyone at the health center has somehow managed to remain completely unaware of this fact.
Trust me, I could go on and on, but I’ve made my point. At a university acclaimed for the caliber of both its staff and its facilities, the only healthcare available on campus is severely lacking in both. I’m excited to see someone finally paying attention to this significant deficit and deciding to do something about it. I know money can’t buy happiness, but hopefully it can get us some decent doctors and facilities so that students can rest assured that their health needs will be dealt with adequately. And maybe if we squeeze every last penny out of this $15 million, we can make it so that the health center is open on nights and weekends, because contrary to popular belief, illness doesn’t only strike during the 40 hour work week.