One long-standing problem with health services on campus is that of transportation. When students need services that aren’t available at Worth, whether that means an external doctor’s appointment or filling prescriptions not available on campus, they generally have to arrange for their own transportation. According to Beth Kotarski, the new director of the Health Center, this has been a “perennial problem,” to which “there has got to be a solution.”
Recently, Worth has attempted to solve to part of that problem: Murie Overhill Pharmacy, in Media, has begun delivering prescription medication not generally stocked by Worth once a day. Students who need medication can give their prescriptions to the health center, which can be filled every afternoon, Monday through Thursday.
The delivery service will act just as would a regular pharmacy: if the student’s insurance requires a co-pay, then he pays it to Worth. Murie Overhill “has been very helpful” in that they are “willing to take student insurance” plans which do not really include drug coverage, which is “above and beyond what most pharmacies are willing to do,” according to Kotarski.
Students who are able to make their way to a regular pharmacy should do so, however, at least for the time being. The system is not yet large enough to accommodate everyday prescriptions; said Kotarski, “I don’t know if the delivery system will be able to expand” enough that “anybody can walk in and get anything.” It should be viewed as “just another avenue for the really sick kids to get their medicine,” she said. Additionally, those students taking advantage of the Worth delivery must collect their drugs at Worth.
This program was spearheaded primarily by Kotarski. She said that when she was interviewing for her directorial position last year, students brought up the issue of what she would do to ease access to prescriptions. Haverford’s health center, from which she came to Swarthmore in October, had a similar program in place; it seemed natural, she said, to work towards a similar program here.
The other major part of the Worth transportation problem is that students often have difficulty making non-urgent off-campus appointments. Worth is unable to schedule any sort of transportation; indeed, Kotarski said that most colleges do not provide such services, as need for them is “so uneven.” She is “working closely with the deans,” however, to improve this situation, and hopes to have some sort of system “up and running…by the end of this spring, or maybe next fall.”
Currently, when a student needs an off-campus appointment they must arrange their own transportation. This often causes difficulty.”It’s very hard,” said Kotarski, “for a nurse to look a kid in the face and say ‘You have to get your own ride.’” Although Kotarski said there have “been times when nurses or staff have stopped what they’re doing and driven students” to appointments, she stressed that most students now have to try to get rides from friends.
There is currently a list of student drivers who are willing to drive students to appointments, and are paid a “small stipend” for their time. “If you go down the list and everyone’s busy,” however, a student will have to make some other arrangement.
Kotarski hopes to create a “much more formal” network of student drivers. There might be, for example, one driver in charge of finding a ride for everyone who needs one in a given week, in an attempt to “avoid scheduling conflicts.” This plan is by no means set in stone, however; Kotarski would like to “form a student health advisory council,” in order to meet with her and talk about health-related issues. This transport issue is, she said, “on the top of the list.”
Meanwhile, however, students who need to see doctors off-campus will have to arrange their own rides. Students who need prescription drugs, on the other hand, will be able to get them at Worth: many drugs commonly needed by Swarthmore students are stocked at Worth, while other drugs will be delivered to the health center on request.