The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Sick of the health center

I awoke last Tuesday to a terrible rumble in my stomach. The horror that quickly ensued over the next 48 hours is something I would wish only on my worst enemies.

Over the next couple of days, I came to know the worst pain I had ever experienced as my digestive system was torn apart by an unknown invader. Taking advantage of SMU’s Memorial Health Center, I called for an appointment Thursday morning once I realized that whatever was ailing me was not going to back down willingly.

This was my first mistake. I told the receptionist that my pain was preventing me from functioning. “Well, the earliest we can get you in is one o’clock,” I was told.

I replied, “I am very concerned with what is going on with my stomach.”

“Well, we go to lunch from 11:45 to 1. We cannot see you before then.”

I was astonished that no doctor or nurse was available to see patients during this whole hour and fifteen minutes during the day—a part of the day during which students usually have a break from classes. You would think the health center would open up these hours to help keep students from having to miss class.

I am not complaining about the courtesy or personal attention of the health center staff, which gave me kindness and respect throughout my appointment, but on the operational hours of the clinic.

I arrived at one and was taken into an examination room. As soon as the doctor came in, I began to relive the past 48 hours. I had been experiencing a very sharp pain at the base of my sternum where my esophagus connects with my stomach. The doctor felt around my stomach and stretched my abdominal muscles. She concluded that the pain must be a muscle problem and not part of the digestive system. While I thought this was possible, it did not explain the horribly abnormal digestive problems I had been experiencing.

Then came my next major problem with the Memorial Health Center. The doctor’s final diagnosis to me was, “If you are still feeling bad on Monday, come back in and we will run some blood and digestive tests.”

What?! I was in disbelief that I possibly had to live with all of this through the next three days because the center was not open on Good Friday or the weekend. Obviously, if I felt my life was in danger I could go to the nearest emergency room, but to just see a regular doctor I would have to find another doctor off-campus.

This was the step I had to take. I saw a family practice doctor on Friday. He wrote me a prescription for an antibiotic right after hearing of my symptoms. He did not even wait for the test results that came back confirming I had an E. coli infection in my digestive track.

The health center doctor would not do this. Without my off-campus doctor, I would have been in horrible pain for no reason all weekend.

I am lucky to know a doctor in the Dallas area and to have a vehicle to get me to his office. But I feel like this column speaks for the students who live on campus and do not have easy transportation to a doctor or clinic.

I do not need to dive deep into the rant of how much tuition costs to attend this private university, but I feel like it would not be troublesome to keep a physician’s assistant or a registered nurse staffing the health center after hours to help students who need urgent care but do not warrant the care of an emergency room.

I would like to see our tuition costs, which seem to rise six to eight percent a year, go towards services that protect the health of students.

Michael Danser is a junior electrical engineering major. He can be reached for comment at [email protected].

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