Hospital opens health clinic on Wellesley College campus

Wellesley College furthers partnership with Newton-Wellesley Hospital to bring more comprehensive student health care to campus
By: | May 21, 2020
Jennifer Schwartz, medical director with Wellesley College Health Services, works with support staff at the Newton-Wellesley Hospital clinic.Jennifer Schwartz, medical director with Wellesley College Health Services, works with support staff at the Newton-Wellesley Hospital clinic.

Reliable, accessible healthcare is imperative for a well and happy community—and college communities are no exception. Wellesley College (Mass.) has forged a deeper collaboration with a neighboring hospital to better serve its 2,400 students.

As of January 2020, students have had access to a permanent health clinic managed by Newton-Wellesley Hospital on campus. It offers a litany of internal and external medicinal care—including virtual visits for students not on campus. The college began spring break on March 16 and started remote instruction for the remainder of the semester on March 30, but as of mid-March still remained open for faculty and staff. About 160 students remained through the end of the school year.

A previous collaboration between the college and hospital encouraged students to utilize emergency care and outpatient services from Newton-Wellesley, located five miles away from campus.

The clinic houses acute care, preventive health, diagnostic testing and prescription services, says Jennifer Schwartz, medical director with Wellesley College Health Services. “The partnership also includes the provision of sports medicine services for student-athletes, expanded weekday office hours, and faster and easier access to Newton-Wellesley’s specialists.”

While testing for COVID-19 is not available on campus, health services can facilitate testing through the hospital. The college’s website states that the Department of Public Health and the CDC determine who meets appropriate criteria for testing, not the college itself.

Wellesley students, via the Newton-Wellesley Hospital clinic, have access to an array of services:

• Acute care: Respiratory, sinus and ear infections, flu, strep throat, musculoskeletal injuries, concussions, etc. (COVID-19 testing not currently offered)

• Preventive health: Physicals, gynecologic exams, STI testing and treatment, smoking cessation support, chronic illness management

• Diagnostic testing: Strep throat, flu, mono, pregnancy, urinary tract infection

• Medication: Prescriptions sent to local pharmacies

• Sports medicine services for student-athletes

Newton-Wellesley Hospital-affiliated physicians, nurse practitioners and nurses have regular hours to provide full-service support to students during COVID-19. The center has remained open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and nurse practitioners can be made available after hours. There are some in-person services for asymptomatic students who remain on campus. The college is rotating staff through the office, with at least one provider and one support staff at Health Services each day.

Partnership’s roots and benefits

Wellesley’s collaboration with Newton-Wellesley Hospital ensures that students have access to world-class medical care both on campus and at the hospital, and also as part of the broader Partners HealthCare network,” says Piper Orton, vice president for finance and administration and treasurer at the college. Newton-Wellesley Collegiate Health and the college have financial arrangements that jointly support the center’s operating costs.

The permanent clinic is a result of increasing collaboration between the college and hospitals throughout the years. Many first-year students at Wellesley are tending to their physical and mental health on their own for the first time, and the convenience of the clinic encourages its use, says Schwarz. “Utilizing on-campus health services also helps better prepare college students for life after graduation, when students must independently make their own health care decisions.”

Stefanie Botelho is UB’s newsletter editor.