JSU: Trustees settle campus health care
by Paige Rentz
Northeast Alabama Regional Medical Center will provide health services at Jacksonville State University, school leaders decided Monday, but the cost of those services to students is yet to be decided.

JSU’s board of trustees on Monday authorized President Bill Meehan to sign a contract with RMC to provide campus health services. The vote was the culmination of more than three and a half years of debate about how to improve health services on campus and whether to outsource the service to another provider.

“As long as you want us here, we’re going to be here,” David McCormack, RMC’s chief executive, told the board Monday.

RMC will employ traditional billing models for insured students, but exactly how uninsured students will be handled has not yet been finalized, officials said.

Clint Carlson, JSU’s vice president for business affairs, said in order to “access the student health center, everybody will pay something.” But no decisions have yet been made as to whether the compensation will come in the form of a new fee or increased tuition. Carlson said the board of trustees will make that decision at its April meeting.

RMC chief operating officer Joe Weaver told the board Monday that his organization intends to increase clinic hours and make a number of other resources in Jacksonville available to the JSU community.

Whereas the university previously staffed the student health center with a patchwork of local physicians under contract for certain hours each week, RMC plans to staff the center with a full-time family physician beginning in August.

Weaver said RMC plans to keep the health center open from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and until 2 p.m. on Fridays, with more limited hours during the slower summer months.

In addition to the student center, Dr. Wyndol Hamer operates a clinic on the south end of the city, which Weaver said is quite busy and often open after normal business hours. RMC is also in talks with another physician who wants to open a weekend urgent care clinic there on Saturdays and Sundays.

For any serious accidents or emergencies, students and faculty will have access to 24-7 care at RMC Jacksonville, formerly Jacksonville Medical Center, which RMC purchased effective Jan. 1.

In addition to the counselors already on staff with the university, Weaver said RMC would provide additional mental health resources.

“There are a lot of mental health needs that are associated with being a college student,” he said

“We would like to offer up the services of one of our own staff psychiatrists.”

RMC plans to offer services like women’s and men’s health needs, mental health screenings, laboratory testing, physicals, immunizations, medication management and wellness check-ups. The organization also intends to offer radiology and rehab services off-campus.

Beyond students’ physical needs, RMC plans to offer education and awareness services, including on-campus health fairs and education about infection control, safe sex practices, campus safety, nutritional counseling, faith-based counseling and wellness clubs.

McCormack said for its current use, the student health center housed in the Williams Building is adequate. He added that RMC staff have observed operations there and it seems as though patients flow quickly through the facility.

In other business, the trustees:

• Authorized issuing a request for qualifications for potential developers of a resort and conference center at Little River Canyon near Fort Payne, where JSU operates a field school.

• Adopted a hazard mitigation plan as a working document for the university to plan for and deal with potential disasters.

• Approved air conditioning repairs for Bibb Graves and Patterson halls, construction of a pavilion at Little River Canyon, renovations for classrooms and an auditorium at the Round House and the development of potential pedestrian paths on campus.

• Authorized Meehan to enter into discussions about a potential land swap with the city of Jacksonville — a parcel of university-owned property on Pelham Road North and the historic Eastwood School property for the city’s old mill property on Alexandria Road.

• Authorized the outsourcing of the university’s Mail Center operations through competitive bid.

• Authorized Meehan to divest the university of a child development center at McClellan after having been judged to have satisfied the conditions of the university’s purchase of the property in 2001 from the authority that took ownership of the property from the Army.

Staff Writer Paige Rentz: 256-235-3564. On Twitter @PRentz_Star.
© 2013