New clinic helps keep North Hennepin students healthy
A new clinic to help improve access to health care for students at North Hennepin Community College is now open. It's part of a trend that supporters say meets a need of young people who have obstacles getting to, or paying for health care.

Open for just five days, the new campus clinic has already been busy. There have been 40 patients, many of them in for things like colds and seasonal illnesses, others for immunizations required to attend school.

It's made possible through a partnership with Fairview Clinics, and staffed by a physician's assistant or nurse practitioner who can write prescriptions.

"Just this week I had a student come in, 'I don't have time to go to a doctor,'" said North Hennepin's Director of Student Life Lindsay Fort. "And I said, 'you just go upstairs.'  It turns out she had mono."

The idea came from the students themselves in a survey that indicated a need for health care services on campus.

"They felt like the number of students who weren't going to get health care treatment because they either couldn't afford it, they couldn't pay the copays or they didn't have insurance and so this came out directly from students," said Fort.

The Student Senate approved a health care fee of $1 per credit hour to completely pay for keeping the clinic open and free to use three days a week.

"It's huge," said student Austriana Flowers. "I think a lot of people kind of have that feeling like, 'I don't want to go to a doctor's office' but I think that because this is right on campus many more students are comfortable with that."

The college hopes it will help keep young people in college, and keep them from missing school because of illness and the cost of care.

"I mean we have students that are making decisions whether they can pay their rent or their doctor bill," said Fort. "All of those things impact how they are going to perform in class. It impacts their stress level, it impacts whether they are going to focus on studying."

Mike Johnson, reporting

February 2, 2017


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