Students raise concerns over campus virtual medical services

photo of the Tang Center
Kyle Garcia Takata /Staff
Students have expressed concerns about virtual medical services offered by the Tang Center and Disabled Students’ Program, or DSP. Starting next week, DSP will incorporate more in-person appointments and drop-in hours, while continuing to offer virtual visits.

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The Tang Center and the Disabled Students’ Program, or DSP, are offering primarily remote services despite campus resuming in-person activities.

Run by University Health Services, or UHS, the Tang Center will continue to provide both in-person and virtual options for medical services while DSP will fully open its office Oct. 11.

Despite this availability, students have reported difficulties with accessing both virtual and in-person resources.

One campus student noted in a tweet that they attempted to call the DSP staff number multiple times during business hours and emailed them, but still had not received a reply after four days.

Campus senior Karimah Mukhtar also noted difficulties accessing medication and appointments at the Tang Center due to the virtual environment. In particular, they said regular blood draws and checkups that they need have been “a hassle” to arrange.

With school activities opening up in person, Mukhtar said they believe medical care should not primarily be delivered virtually.

“We should have access to these things if we’re trying to move forward and have things be in person at our university,” Mukhtar said. “It just doesn’t make sense to me to have our classes in person when we can’t access our doctors in person.”

The Tang Center is primarily operating through phone and Zoom appointments, according to UHS spokesperson Tami Cate. It is also providing limited in-person services for urgent care and students who have requested in-person appointments.

However, according to Cate, in-person counseling sessions are “less productive and less comfortable,” so UHS is recommending that students begin with remote services before asking to come in person.

“We are offering all services in-person if that is preferred, and for remote services, we offer phone and video,” Cate said in an email. “Students have options for how they want to receive their care.”

DSP will continue to offer virtual visits while incorporating more in-person appointments and drop-in hours beginning next week, according to DSP Executive Director Karen Nielson.

According to Nielson, DSP delayed providing in-person services due to health concerns for students and staff, who may be at a higher risk of “serious infection” from COVID-19.

“It is important to DSP to provide excellent services to our students with disabilities,” Nielson said in an email. “I meet with student groups regularly to address emerging concerns and collaborate on improving services.”

Despite the concerns raised by some students over virtual medical resources, Cate said UHS’ virtual adjustments have garnered approval.

“Now and going forward we are likely to continue offering a variety of ways to access care, both in-person and virtual options,” Cate said in an email. “Students have liked the options and having added virtual care to our in-person services has been well received.”

Contact Lauren Cho and Mia Scher at [email protected].