Wellness fee may increase by 7 percent next semester

The Indiana University of Pennsylva­nia wellness fee may increase from $170 to $182 per semester starting in the fall, according to the executive director of the IUP Center for Health and Well- Being at Tuesday’s Student Government Association meeting.

Executive Director Malinda Levis said the Center for Health and Well- Being wants this 7 percent increase to add services and pay inflation-adjusted wages.

The Center for Health and Well- Being – which has its central offices in the Suites on Maple – is in charge of the Health Service, IUP’s campus health provider, and the Counseling Center, which provides counseling and psychological services. It also administers programs like the Ha­ven Project, the Nutrition Connection, Health AWAREness, the Health Hut and the Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs Program.

The IUP wellness fee is paid by full-time undergraduate students, which helps fund services provided by the The Center for Health and Well-Being. Pay­ing this fee gives students free access to many, but not all, services provided by the health center, as explained on the IUP website.

Part-time undergraduates and graduate students have the option of paying this fee, or the lower commu­nity wellness fee, which grants students access to a more limited range of ser­vices and allows them to use others for a fee.

Under certain circumstances, stu­dents also have the option of waiving the wellness fee, which means that they do not get access to Center for Health and Well-Being services.

However, Levis said the university still allows students who pay only the community wellness fee or have waived the fee entirely to use services they are not technically entitled to in certain situations, particularly when they are looking for counseling.

“We don’t want to not help people,” Levis said.

She said that because the Indiana area does not have a strong mental-health system, the Counseling Center may be the only option for some stu­dents.

She added that all students have ac­cess to preventative care and ambulanc­es and can go to the Haven Project if they need its services.

Charging students individual bills rather than a fee for services can cause problems, Levis said.

“We’ve found that the primary pro­vider of insurance is not the student,” she said.

This could lead to parents or guardians who pay insurance for stu­dents receiving bills for services the stu­dents may not have chosen to tell them about, creating a privacy issue, Levis said.

She said that the Center for Health and Well-Being is working on this issue.

During the SGA meeting, Levis also told members about changes to the services offered by the Center for Health and Well-Being.

The IUP Health Service is now paperless, with all records stored electronically, and has a portal set up that allows them to send out remind­ers about appointments to those who make them, she said.

It has also increased the number of appointments made by students, Levis said. Previously, nearly all patients at the Health Service were walk-ins, and now 50 percent of patients have appoint­ments.

This has cut down the wait time for appointments and that now most students are seen by a Health Service staff member within an hour, and 90 percent are seen within two hours, Levis said

About 12,500 students have used the Health Service in the last year, Levis said. She said that she and other Health Service personnel are exploring the pos­sibility of adding evening hours to their normal 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. hours of opera­tion.

The Health Service also offers trans­portation by van to medical appoint­ments, a service that has been used 1,700 times in the last year and pays for ambulance transportation of students, which it has done 292 times in the last year, Levis said.

The Counseling Center has also seen some changes, she said. It now has six psychologists on staff and has expanded walk-in hours.

The Center for Health and Well- Being also oversees campus recreation services including the gyms and pool in Zink Hall. The pool has had more than 1,700 visitors this year, she reported.

Also discussed at the meeting was a new recycling program that the IUP Environmentally Conscious Organiza­tion hopes to convince the school to adopt.

The recycling program, offered through Waste Management, would include having recyclables sorted at the factory, eliminating the need for separate bins for different kinds of recy­clables, Taylor Billman (senior, manage­ment) said.

No internal affairs chairperson was elected at the Tuesday meeting.