University Health Services encourages students to continue reaching out amid novel coronavirus pandemic
A UW-Madison student experience is now different than many are used to due to rules and regulations put in place for the safety of the Madison community.
Yet, how is the university accounting for students who rely on the essential services they provide?
UW-Madison’s University Health Services has committed to finding alternative ways to support students during this time of uncertainty as the novel coronavirus continues to steer public policy away from face-to-face interactions.
Gov. Tony Evers, in correspondence with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, issued a “Safer at Home” order in effect since Wednesday, March 25 at 8 a.m.
Before Evers enacted such measures, Chancellor Rebecca Blank sent out a campus-wide email issuing a “shift to alternate delivery of courses from March 23 through the end of the spring semester, including final exams.”
UHS will remain open with on-site visits to the 333 East Campus Mall location for students — no other UHS office is open at this time.
“We are still here for you,” Interim Director of Mental Health Services Andrea Lawson said. “We want to be here for you. We are working really hard to make sure that services are available to you in any capacity. We care about you, and we seek to build a community that serves the UW mission statement at distance.”
UHS wants to help students navigate the connection between similarities and differences of learning experiences while abiding by public health policy during this pandemic. They also seek to motivate “resilience in the midst of a crisis,” Lawson said.
A screening checkpoint is placed at the front entrance of the building, where nurses monitor incoming patients for active COVID-19 symptoms. In the circumstance a patient possesses active symptoms, they are promptly provided the care necessary to manage displayed symptoms before going elsewhere in the building.
Within the mental health services department, staff is split up into teams of 20 to 30 members, alternating between on-site and home services.
Staff who are not physically in the office will be focusing on clinical health, projects and documentation. The service delivery capacity is smaller than usual; however, patients are assured individualized attention.
UHS staff members are giving their utmost effort to serve their mission statement to “promote, protect and restore health & well-being.”
As director, Lawson speaks on behalf of all UHS mental health providers when relaying information about the operation of mental health services. Mental health providers urge students to call the office if they plan on utilizing external resources, as UHS wants to make a plan that supports each individual.
Continuity of care will be granted over a wide variety of platforms — as a preventative measure, students’ needs will likely be met via phone or digital correspondence.
Students can obtain further information from the Center for Healthy Minds — a partner on campus. Urgent needs or crises can also be assisted via the crisis line, suicide prevention hotline, DoIT Help Desk and SilverCloud — an online mental health resource that is available to everyone. It addresses anxiety, depression, body image, and stress. These resources are all available via uhs.wisc.edu.
“People may experience grief at this time of uncertainty and transition — we want students to monitor this. We are here to provide opportunities of connection and information,” Lawson said.
Lawson said students are encouraged to call UHS, as online booking and drop-in consultations are unavailable for the time being. Although UHS is not restricting appointments, specialists are trying to place their focus on students with the most need.
“We encourage students with needs to call first in order to promote the health of students and staff, reinforce public health mandates and reduce the impact of COVID on our communities,” Lawson said.
Lawson encouraged students to consider resources in their home communities — whether students return to a specialist or develop a relationship with a new one, local support may be the greatest option for specific patients.
Keeping privacy and confidentiality in mind, UHS will also include teletherapy in the coming weeks while they seek flexibility in availability of services during this time of uncertainty.
“We will hopefully help in growing together as we all contribute to the building of a university community in a more distanced and dispersed way,” Lawson said. “All departments of the university are thinking creatively about ways to adapt to this environment that none of us have experienced before.”Subscribe to The Daily Cardinal Newsletter