November 27, 2012

In Praise of Gannett Health Services

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Praise of Gannett Health Services is not a common sentiment on East Hill. Often complaints about the health service center’s handling of a case of the common cold and the ensuing jest, “Did they ask you if you were pregnant?” reverberate Far Above Cayuga’s Waters. I shared these same views of Gannett’s supposed incompetence until a few weeks ago when I was faced with a gruesome alternative, the Cayuga Medical Center Urgent Care facility.For those loyal readers who noticed that I did not write a column two weeks ago, I apologize. Unfortunately, I was sick to a degree that did not even allow me to eat food or sleep comfortably, hardly an appropriate condition for writing a column. The sickness that was afflicting me was called Coxsackie virus, also called Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease for the painful sores that you sustain on and in, you guessed it, your hands, feet and mouth.With the initial onset of the symptoms I asked a friend to drop me off at the aforementioned Urgent Care facility on Sunday since Gannett is not opened on Sundays (an issue I will discuss later). In total, including a separate trip to a pharmacy, the entire ordeal took me four hours and I was essentially told to take ibuprofen, use cough drops and apply eye drops for what was improperly diagnosed as Conjunctivitis (later, I found out that my bloodshot eyes were simply a side-effect of the Coxsackie and that the antibiotics that Urgent Care had given me were not helping).I suffered for several days, unable to eat or attend class until I took my sickness to Gannett on Tuesday. With a properly scheduled appointment, the visit was a cool breeze in the Coxsackie-induced swamp of my inability to eat. I came away from the visit with a concrete idea of what the virus did, how to treat it and with actual medication to dull the pain of my cold-sore-filled mouth. Furthermore, the experienced doctors at Gannett scheduled two follow-up appointments to track my immune system’s progress in battling the disease. The doctors at Gannett had actually provided a concrete plan to conquer the virus rather than just letting the illness take its course like Urgent Care had. And, more importantly, they did it in half of the time.Granted, there are several significant problems with how Gannett operates. First of all, the health services building is closed on Sundays, and as a close friend recently put it, “people don’t just not get sick on Sundays.” Take my case for example; I was struck with my illness on a Sunday and was forced to go to a clinic where I did not receive adequate care. Another problem is Gannett’s misguided fixation on their own alcohol policy. Gannett requires that you fill out a pre-appointment questionnaire before every visit where they ask about your recent alcohol consumption. Although there is an option to not answer the question, if your answer aligns with the standard for binge drinking (four drinks for females or five for males in one sitting) then, according to a friend’s account, a large part of your visit to Gannett will consist of alcohol-related patronizing rather than treating the reason for your visit to Gannett. These are two aspects of the health center that must be reformed in order to optimize an ill student’s experience, but even with these aspects, Gannett remains a valuable resource for student health.You really do not appreciate the efficiency of Gannett until you make back-to-back visits to a hospital clinic and then to the clinic on Ho Plaza. At Gannett, if you simply walk in without an appointment you can expect to be seen quickly by a nurse who will likely refer you to a same-day appointment within an hour. At a clinic, you can expect to wait with screaming children, people talking loudly on their cell phones and a television blaring cartoons for about an hour until you are seen by a nurse who quickly checks your vitals and then tells you to go back into the loud, unclean waiting room. Although many do not consider the sheer, assembly-line efficiency of Gannett to be pleasant, it is far more pleasant than the unorganized alternative.Furthermore, at least in my anecdotal experience, the doctors at Gannett are quite knowledgeable and helpful as long as you know the correct questions to ask them. It seems a universal constant with health care professionals that they require prompting to be truly helpful and, as long as you come to Gannett with written questions for the doctors they are quite helpful. Although I agree that Gannett could provide a more pleasant experience for Cornellians (and that it definitely should be open on Sundays) it accomplishes its purpose admirably. It acts as a bastion of health care knowledge where students can go to avoid the long wait and other negative consequences of poorly run clinics.

David Fischer is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. He may be reached at dfischer@cornellsun.com. Fischy Business appears alternate Wednesdays this semester.

Original Author: David Fischer

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