By Ariel Steinsaltz
This past summer, the College had the offices of Student Health Services and Counseling and Psychological Services renovated for the first time since they moved into Eickhoff Hall in 1992.
“It was kind of dark and things were worn,” said Director of Student Health Services Janice Vermeychuk. “It really needed to be updated.”
Costs for health services have not changed. There is no cost for office visits and treatment, and minimal cost for lab tests, vaccines and physicals.
Talks of renovations began as early as the fall of 2014, but it was a long process before renovations could begin. At the end of the spring 2017 semester, both offices left their original location in Eickhoff 107 and moved into the basement of Decker Hall for the summer. Both moved back into Eickhoff at the beginning of the current academic year.
The renovations were supervised by the Office of Campus Construction and by Angela Lauer Chong, the Interim Vice President of Student Affairs. However, Vermeychuk and Mark Forest, the director of CAPS and interim assistant vice president for Student Affairs, oversaw most of the details and worked closely with the architects and designers.
Several physical changes were made to the offices. The waiting room used to have two separate doors, one for each office, which meant that people could see who had come for medical services and who had come for psychological services. Now, there is only one door, which Forest said will “enhance privacy and confidentiality.”
Vermeychuk described the waiting room as “brighter and more modern,” and said that now it looks more like a real doctor’s office. The reception area was also updated.
Computers were also installed for future use, according to Vermeychuk. She hopes that they will serve as possible check-in stations or ways to fill out questionnaires or brief surveys needed for SHS and CAPS.
Several new rooms were added as well, including two new counseling offices, a group counseling room and a new examination room.
Since students schedule appointments during lunch time, staff members eat in a lounge in Eickhoff and do not go out for lunch. This lounge was updated, and a new emergency exit door was added on the CAPS side of the office so that in case of an emergency, students would not have to be taken to the other side of the office. Forest explained that this provides a more efficient flow of patients.
SHS provides many services, including treatment for illnesses and minor injuries, certain laboratory tests, vaccinations, physical examinations and tuberculosis testing. CAPS provides various services including individual counseling, group counseling, crisis intervention and online mental health screenings. These services were not affected by the renovations.
One added service in SHS includes women’s reproductive services to replace the College’s Planned Parenthood, which closed over winter break. Vermeychuk said that since Planned Parenthood could not provide the three days of service per week required of them, its services were incorporated into SHS instead.
Many students including Molly Knapp, a junior public health and women’s, gender and sexuality studies double major, was pleased with this change.
“I know there’s been some rumblings on campus about the dismantling of the Planned Parenthood,” Knapp said, “but it’s actually an improvement.”
Both offices increased their staff in order to accommodate the growing need for their services. CAPS has increased its staffing by more than 50 percent since 2014, and SHS hired a new practitioner.
SHS employs five nurse practitioners and one physician. SHS sees patients every 15 to 30 minutes,which add up to about 8,000 visits a year, according to Vermeychuk. Use of the service is expected to increase due to the addition of the women’s reproductive services. Vermeychuk said women’s reproductive services has been booked every day since opening.
CAPS’ appointments are longer than SHS visits, and range from 45 to 50 minutes. Clinicians see about nine to 12 people seen per hour, according to Forest. CAPS gets close to 4,500 appointments booked yearly, and sees about 12 percent of the student body, which is higher than the national average of students receiving counseling –– 10 percent –– according to Forest.
CAPS has nine licensed mental health professionals and four trainees. Appointments for SHS and requests for CAPS can be made online through the College’s Online Wellness Link.
Reactions from students to the renovations were generally positive.
“I think it’s really great that they’re trying to be more accommodating,” said Kelly Ganning, a junior graphic design major.
Vermeychuk said that the office is like a “home away from home” for her and Forest, and it is important to them that the office is run efficiently and remains a safe place for students.
For more information on CAPS call 609-771-2247 or email CAPS@tcnj.edu