WSU health affected by large influx of freshmen

Health Services looks to fill positions, add more diverse staff



Members of ASWSU listen as Director of Health and Safety Catherine Dunn discusses Suicide Prevention Week and the Department of Health and Safety on Wednesday in the CUB.

KIRSI LUNDHAGEN, Evergreen reporter

At an ASWSU meeting Wednesday night, Executive Director Renee Coleman-Mitchell from Cougar Health Services updated student government officials on the state of Cougar Health.

The program is looking to fill several positions for psychological services and one medical doctor, she said.

“There’s been a lot of questions about our psychology positions, and we actually have three vacancies,” she said. “We’re trying [to fill them].”

Looking at the operational budget for the 2019 fiscal year, Coleman-Mitchell said Cougar Health is projected to spend roughly $11 million and have expenses slightly under that. The estimated net income is roughly $1,487, she said.

“The bottom line,” Coleman-Mitchell said, “is there’s no increase in student health fees.”

Cougar Health is also focusing on providing more transgender health services and mental health services, she said, and they are specifically seeking out a new medical doctor knowledgeable about transgender health.

The Washington Building, where Cougar Health Services is housed, was renovated this past summer, she said.

Counseling and Psychological Services, which used to be part of separate wards, are now working together on the third floor.

“The goal is to have more of an efficient use of our time in terms of the providers,” Coleman-Mitchell said. “It’s no longer a hallway with two doors, one open, one not. It’s open access.”

Similar to some WSU housing facilities, health services have had to adjust for the larger-than average freshman class.

“Our finance budget manager is pretty good at estimating. She’s done it for 30 years,” Coleman-Mitchell said. “This year she was 700 students off.”

One senator asked Coleman-Mitchell about the percentage of healthcare providers who are people of color at Cougar Health. She said the number is low, and she would like to find more POC medical professionals to fill vacancies.

“It’s a very small percentage,” she said. “I’m very aware of it.”

Coleman-Mitchell said she hopes to spread awareness of the many programs Cougar Health offers, including Counseling and Psychological Services, Health Promotion, Medical and Vision Clinic and Pharmacy.

“Cougar Health Services is the umbrella for all the services we provide,” Coleman-Mitchell said. “We want to be able to provide health services for lifelong health and wellness, but we cannot do it without your input, or questions, or your needs.”

In a separate interview, Coleman-Mitchell told The Daily Evergreen that Cougar Health Services is looking for support from the ASWSU Senate moving forward.