Vinson offers healthy boost to campus

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Kristin Silva

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The Vinson Health Center is an on-campus doctor’s office that caters solely to students.

Part of the student fee that is paid alongside tuition goes toward the VHC so students have a place to be treated when they are sick or injured without to pay a co-pay upfront. It offers treatment and medication for various illnesses, dislocated and/or broken bones, vision, gynecology, blood work and tests for STIs to all students.

Medical Director Keith Williamson said, “For students, [we are] available and affordable. I’m more accessible for students who can’t see their normal primary physician. The last thing I want to do is get in between an established patient-physician relationship, but if they want to come see me they are welcome to. Everyone is welcome.”

Just like a normal doctor’s office, students must make an appointment to be seen unless it’s an emergency. Williamson said he worked for two years as an emergency room doctor and he will call an ambulance for students who come to the office with emergency issues.

“Those [emergencies] need to be evaluated in a setting where they [doctors] can do stabilization,” Williamson said. “If you’re having a heart attack, you need to go to the emergency room. If you run up to the desk saying, ‘I have chest pain and shortness of breath,’ we’re calling an ambulance because 99% of these cases could be nothing, but 1% could die if we keep them here. If someone came in here spurting arterial blood, of course we’re going to help them, keep them stabilized and call an ambulance.”

Williamson has broad experiences in the medical field because he has trained with different specialized doctors over the course of his life.

“I can do medicine, infectious disease, management of diabetes, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, preventative services, skin surgery, gynecologic services,” Williamson said. “I used to deliver babies, and I haven’t done pediatric services in a long time, but I have [experience] with it.”

During cold and flu season, walk-ins are welcomed.

“We do walk-ins a couple of times a week and with those, it’s first-come, first-serve,” Williamson said. “We only start those during cold and flu season. The reason for that is because we studied it, and we did a walk-in clinic in September and October and nobody came.”

Williamson said if a patient needs medication, a prescription is written at the appointment and it can be taken to a pharmacy of the student’s choice.

KJ Mowry, art senior, said she has not been to the VHC because she didn’t know it was offered, but now that she knows, she wants to check it out.

“We don’t have great insurance,” Mowry said. “We pay out of pocket for sick appointments, so I pay probably $120 per appointment. We get big things covered, but not appointments for something like a virus. This keeps me from going to the doctor if I don’t think I need medication.”

The convenience of it being on campus and that it’s provided just for students is what Mowry said makes it worth-while for a student to visit when they are feeling sick.

“They’re [VHC] just seeing college students at MSU,” Mowry said. “If they’ve seen five students with the flu and another one comes in with the same symptoms, they’ll be able to say, ‘the flu has been going around the dorms, you have this strand,’ and immediately be able to treat it. It’s a good stop for students. I’d definitely go now that I know about it.”

Trevor Carlton, nursing junior, said he tried to use the VHC once when he had the flu, but it was too full for him to get in so he had to go elsewhere to get treatment.

“I went to get treated for the flu, but they said it would take three days to get back to me,” Carlton said. “They said they had other appointments ahead of me. Medicine for the flu is only useful if you catch it within the first two days.”

The VHC is located inside the Wellness Center and is open Mon.-Fri. from 7:45 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

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