With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing the closure of the Texas Tech campus, Student Health Services has changed how it provides help to students. But, it still offers its services to students seeking medical help or advice.
Dr. Erika Radford, assistant medical director for Student Health Services, said SHS is still providing help for students currently enrolled and residing in Texas. Due to medical licensing law, their providers cannot utilize zoom or phone visits across state lines.
"We are still open and keeping our regular clinic hours from (Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.)," Radford said via email. "However we have made some adjustments to help protect our patients and minimize exposure. We are encouraging patients to utilize our telemedicine options via Zoom visits, phone visits, and MyTeamCareNow. We are prioritizing in-person appointments for complaints that have to be examined in person."
For students needing blood drawn, the labs will remain open on Tuesdays and Fridays, but point of care in their clinic will remain open daily, Radford said. For students needing to pick up prescriptions from the pharmacy, curbside pickup is available during working hours on weekdays, with walk-ins on Tuesdays and Fridays.
"Zoom visits are visits we can do for most complaints," Radford said. "These are video visits scheduled during normal clinic hours and conducted in a similar way to an in-person visit. We will bill the insurance as we normally would in clinic. There is no co-pay requirement. Telephone visits are another option for complaints that do not require a visual exam, such as some types of medication refills. These also will bill to insurance."
For students seeking urgent care, Radford said the MyTeamCareNow app is a viable option.
"The MyTeamCareNow app is an app for urgent care complaints that can be addressed as soon as you log into the app," Radford said. "It is available 24/7 and has a flat fee of $49 charged before the visit begins."
For students concerned they may have COVID-19, Radford said she recommends utilizing the drive-thru testing available at the University Medical Center, so as to not potentially expose other patients to the virus.
"We have a protocol for patients presenting or calling with respiratory complaints or fevers," Radford said. "We screen every person coming into our building for fevers and other respiratory symptoms, including our own staff. If we suspect COVID-19 in our patients, we advise them to go to the UMC COVID-19 drive-thru. We continue to follow these patients and will provide any additional medical resources they may need after screening and testing."
Due to the social distancing protocols in place in the country to prevent further spread of the virus, SHS has taken steps to ensure they can provide adequate mental health support to those needing it. This includes screening patients for depression and alcohol abuse due to the mental toll of the pandemic, Radford said.
"This pandemic has caused a huge, and sudden, adjustment for all of our students," Radford said. "This is exactly why we are so committed to providing full mental health access to all of our students. We have trained all our mental health providers to provide Zoom and telephone visits. We are also accepting new mental health patients as well."
With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the lives of all students of Tech, Radford said it is in everyone's best interests to continue practicing social distancing and proper healthcare routines. She also advised students to practice self-isolation when possible to reduce the virus' potential to spread.
It is a time of adjustment, anxiety and uncertainty for all citizens, Redford said, but students in particular have had more sudden change and uprooting than most of the general population. For this reason, mental heath is paramount and a top priority of the clinic.
"We want to encourage students to reach out to us to discuss mental health," Radford said. "It is also important that continuity of care be preserved and we continue to refill medications and address concerns and follow ups for chronic conditions. We can mostly do this via telemedicine, and have had good success with this so far. We are also available to address urgent complaints. We want to make sure every student understands that they can reach out to as before, and we will make every effort to have their concerns be addressed."