Medical Care, Education Are at the Core of Weigel’s Services
Health services at Buffalo State College began in 1917, when Ruth Houston was put in charge of first-aid assistance. The system of care has since evolved into Weigel Health Center, a fully staffed medical facility that provides a full range of health-care services for thousands of students each year.
The Weigel Health Center opened in 1972 and is named for Paul J. Weigel, M.D., director of health services at Buffalo State from 1966 to 1969. The center provides therapeutic and preventive medical services, health promotion, and state-mandated immunizations for all registered students.
While staff members’ foremost purpose is to provide high-quality health care, education is also a key component of the center’s medical services.
“Prevention and education are woven into everything we do,” said Theresa Stephan Hains, M.D., director of Weigel Health Center. “Health education—such as violence prevention, nutrition information, and counseling—is documented with every treatment.”
The staff’s level of care for students and attention to detail earned the center accreditation from the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care in 2004 and renewal in 2007. Organizations seeking accreditation by AAAHC undergo an extensive on-site, peer-based survey of their facilities and services. Weigel Health Center is the only Buffalo-area college health center that has received this accreditation.
“The credentials for our staff have to be top-notch as part of our accreditation,” said Angeline Price, who currently serves as acting director of the center. “Our team members undergo comprehensive annual reviews and are actively engaged in continuing education.”
Weigel Health Center employs a team of fully trained and licensed health-care professionals, including medical doctors, nurse practitioners, and registered nurses, as well as a large support staff. The clinic offers a range of primary care services, including diagnosis and treatment of illness and injuries, general and sports physicals, immunizations, prescribing services, and specialized care for women and men. Students are encouraged to make appointments but may also receive services on a walk-in basis. The center strives to have at least three people on staff at all times.
Weigel is currently making extensive efforts to prevent the spread of the H1N1 virus on campus. This week, staff administered hundreds of doses of the H1N1 vaccine to high-risk students. The Weigel Web site also includes information for faculty, staff, and students about protection against the virus and emergency response planning.
While Weigel does not provide emergency services such as x-rays or stitches, the staff makes an extra effort to refer students who need immediate help.
“We work closely with the University Police Department, who work with emergency responders to provide ambulance service when needed,” Price said. “During late evening hours and weekends, when Weigel is closed, students can reach an after-hours triage service by calling our number and getting directed to a nurse who will give medical instructions. We also post signs on our doors with emergency contact information.”
Weigel Health Center also provides professional development opportunities through internships and training for students who may wish to enter the health-care field. The center’s Health Promotion unit also coordinates a peer-education program through which students assist other students with issues such as relationship problems and alcohol- and drug-abuse prevention.
All full-time undergraduate and graduate students are required to have health insurance, which is provided through Weigel if students do not have outside coverage. In addition, all students pay a mandatory health fee, which maintains Weigel’s operating costs.
Although Weigel Health Center primarily serves students, some services are available to faculty and staff. The dental clinic housed at the center through United Students Government offers preventive dental care, and Weigel works with an outside pharmacy to fill prescriptions for students, faculty, and staff. Weigel staff members also may provide immediate first aid at the center for faculty and staff in the event of a sudden injury on campus. All medical emergencies should be reported to University Police at 878-6333.
Weigel staff members also are part of Buffalo State’s emergency response teams, coordinate CPR/AED (automated external defibrillator) training, and provide health presentations in classrooms. “We would love to train more faculty and staff,” said Stephan Hains. “We’re also available to talk to classes anytime.”
Price said faculty and staff may refer students to Weigel (878-6711) when they appear ill, have repeated absences to class, or show a marked change in performance. Weigel staff members are able to provide students with medical leaves when provided with supporting medical documentation. In addition, the facility houses the Counseling Center on the second floor; faculty and staff may refer students there as well (878-4436).