New pharmacy at USI health center allows students to buy medications on campus

Jessica Stallings

Students and faculty can now buy their medications, including birth control, antibiotics and a variety of over-the-counter medicines, on campus at the USI Student Health Center.

The health center, whose faculty are employed by local Deaconess Hospital, offers over-the-counter medications to all patients and prescriptions to only students who have seen one of the health center’s physicians.

The university and Deaconess recently hired Matt Winegar, who implemented the pharmacy system, as the USI Student Health Center Practice Manager. Winegar said during his interview process, he asked what kinds of pharmacy services are available to students and faculty. When the answer was “none,” he knew it was going to be top on his list if he were hired, he said.

“I’ve always felt that health care is very important, because it’s the basis of everything,” Winegar said. “If you’re not feeling good, then your home life isn’t going to be good, or your work life, or your school life – It is all affected by your physical health.”

Winegar said he wanted to make sure the costs of medications were kept as low as possible. He said the most expensive medication at the health center is birth control at $13. Other medications range from $5 to $9 each.

“I wanted to be able to offer something to everyone on campus that was convenient and at a cheap cost,” Winegar said.

Winegar said there are two different birth control options, Ortho-Cyclen and Ortho Tri-Cyclen. The most common antibiotics that the center carries are Amoxicillin and Zithromaz Z-Pak. Along with a range of over-the-counter medications such as Advil, Tylenol, Aleve, Zyrtec, Benadryl, Debrox and BenzaClin Gel.

Dean of Students Angela Batista said she wants to increase the presence the center has on campus. She said not enough students and faculty know that it’s accessible and know what can they can go there for.

Batista said residential students are required to have a plan, but even then, they don’t use it as much as they could. Commuter students can get an office visit plan, which is less costly for students than buying insurance elsewhere.

“For students who don’t have insurance, we encourage (them) to go find out about it because we think it would be cheaper,” Batista said.

Batista said the pharmacy choose certain medicines to fit students’ needs.

“We looked at the entire list that over the last year people have been most prescribed or (that) people have requested the most, and then we picked the top ones,” Batista said.

She said the center is selling medicines mostly based on cost and not profit.

“Even if you pay with cash or credit card, prices are really low,” Batista said. “The over-the-counter medicines are cheaper than if you were to go to Wal-Mart.”

Batista said patients have to be seen and prescribed by a nurse or doctor within the health center before getting a prescription filled, even if they had previously seen by another doctor.

“This is really a service that we are adding,” she said. “They are not a registered provider for the community. Their role is to provide to USI.”

Batista said parents will not know what medications students are prescribed on campus, as is the policy for student records.

“Students are considered adults,” Batista said. “Their information is kept private unless students sign a release.”

Batista said that even though it is a USI center, it is still legitimate, and the staff are all well-trained professionals.

“With the service of Deaconess behind us, it gives a lot more resources as a patient,” Batista said.

Ashley Oglesby, junior criminal justice and sociology major, feels this is a positive step for the health center even though most students at USI are commuters.

“There still needs to be opportunities for students who live on campus or who have home towns outside of the area (so they can) get basic medications from a place they can trust,” Oglesby said.

Oglesby said she uses the health center for low-cost options that she would otherwise not be able to afford with the cost of health care. She feels more confident in the care received by the health center because of the new options.

“The overall health of all students is crucial to promoting healthy lifestyles,” Oglesb y said. “With these new options, I believe USI is well on their way to doing this.”

Oglesby said Deaconess is well recognized in this area and many people trust their care and treatment.

“It helps me to feel confident in their care at the center and reassures me that I am getting quality care,” Oglesby said.

The USI Student Health Center is currently open Monday through Thursday 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Summer hours begin the week after finals and are Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The health center is located in the lower level of the Health Professions Center.