Health care easily accessible, affordable for students

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Put simply, college life is different.

With balancing classes, work and social lives, the hectic lifestyles students lead at college can be drastically unlike those carried on outside of the school year. This, said Laura Chellman, Director of Student Health Service, can impact students’ health.

“Sleeping patterns, eating patterns and exercise patterns change,” Chellman said. “They just typically do. And that all can affect their immune systems.”

Fortunately for UW-Eau Claire students, there are many options for health care in addition to hospitals. These places, including free clinics, reproductive health sites, and on-campus health services, are local and often low cost, meaning students can receive quality health care on small budgets.

Located on campus in the Crest Wellness Center, Student Health Service is a natural choice for students. According to their Web site, services at Student Health Service are available to any enrolled UW-Eau Claire student. The services include physicals, diagnosis of various ailments, contraceptives, and testing for sexually transmitted infections. However, Student Health Service also strives to better educate students on taking care of their health.

“We certainly emphasize education, and we try to help educate students on when they should go to a health care provider,” Chellman said.

Most costs associated with Student Health Service are covered by student segregated fees that are paid with tuition, Chellman said. Generally, the visit to the center itself is free, but testing, treatments and certain procedures can deliver some costs to the students.

It was partially this low-cost medical attention that made senior Anna Larson decide to visit Student Health Service for her health care needs. Larson said she had heard about other healthcare options in the area, but ultimately settled on Student Health Service.

“I chose to go there because it was close by and available to students for free,” Larson said.

If seeking health care off campus, Eau Claire City-County Health Department is another option. The health department offers STD testing, pregnancy testing and has a family planning clinic, said Pat Perkins, the Health Benefits Specialist of the Eau Claire City-County Health Department. The health department can also assist people with applications for certain insurance programs, such as the BadgerCare Plus Core Plan and the Family Planning Waiver Program.

Eligibility for the health department’s services is widespread, making the services easily accessible for students.

“The services are available to anyone,” Perkins said. “They don’t even have to be residents of Eau Claire County.”

Other local places can also be good alternatives. The area has free clinics, two of which are the Chippewa Valley Free Clinic in Eau Claire and the Free Clinic for the Greater Menomonie Area in Menomonie. Area volunteers staff both locations one night a week to provide health care for those without other options, according to their respective Web sites.

Another place is Planned Parenthood. According to their Web site, Planned Parenthood is a national organization that focuses on reproductive health for both men and women. It provides testing for STIs, contraceptives and examinations.

The AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin is also a place to receive specialized medical attention. Their Web site says the ARCW provides HIV/AIDS testing as well as a variety of services for people with HIV/AIDS, such as dental care and legal assistance.

With such a variety of healthcare providers in the area, UW-Eau Claire students have their choice of where to seek medical attention. These low-cost options make it possible for students to take care of their health, and their wallets.

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