UPHC earns credit where credit’s due
As the University Park Health Center (UPHC) moves into a new building named for donors Roger and Michele Dedeaux Engemann ’68, it will do so with the maximum, three-year seal of approval from the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC).
“Only about 10 percent of student health centers in the country have gone through accreditation,” said Lawrence Neinstein, professor of pediatrics and medicine, executive director of the UPHC and senior associate dean of Student Affairs. “It is a voluntary thing, and we think it’s very important. We’ve now been accredited since 1999.”
The UPHC earned the accreditation based on an evaluation of everything from counseling services and wellness programs to health insurance and infection control. Two accreditors scrutinized the facilities and conducted interviews for two days in addition to reviewing quality assurance studies, peer review documents and medical charts.
They also examined the UPHC’s teaching programs for those studying medicine, pharmacy, psychology, social work, physical therapy, public health and health promotion.
The accreditors had high praise for the UPHC’s “dedicated staff of professionals who appear to provide high quality of care to the students they serve … under the leadership of an outstanding medical director.” They also complimented Michael L. Jackson, vice president for Student Affairs, for his ongoing support of student health and wellness.
The accreditors noted a “student population that is highly satisfied” with its 90,000 visits a year to the UPHC, as evidenced by the good to excellent ratings received in evaluations.
The UPHC has expanded its services to USC students through several new programs, including a travel clinic, men’s health services, an eating disorder team, acupuncture and chiropractic services, immunization outreaches, pregnancy counseling, after hours triage, electronic health records and a new website at usc.edu/uphc
The Office for Wellness and Health Promotion (OWHP) earned a special mention from the accreditation team, which complimented its “creative array of health education and promotion services.”
“We’ve always done things that are timely, staying ahead of the curve on issues such as alcohol and sexuality, particularly,” said Paula Swinford, director of the OWHP.
In addition, the UPHC has received accreditations from the Department of Health and Human Services, as well as the state and county.
Counseling Services received an additional seven-year accreditation from the American Psychological Association for its training programs. The evaluation highlighted the program’s strengths in diversity training, brief psychotherapy and crisis therapy.
“Here at USC, if you look at our student population, to have that expertise in diversity is key,” said Ilene Rosenstein, assistant professor of clinical pediatrics and director of Student Counseling Services. “Being recognized on that was really great.”
In addition to the care Trojans receive at the health center, USC administers one of the nation’s largest student health insurance programs and recently became the first university in the country to expand coverage to distance-learning students.
“USC and Student Affairs believes that part of our mission is to assist the university in keeping folks healthy and progressing in their academic programs,” said Catherine De Francesco, senior administrative director of the UPHC. “That’s the overarching mission for all of us in the insurance area.”
Student Affairs will continue its dedication to health when it opens the Roger and Michele Dedeaux Engemann Student Health Center, which will unite under one roof primary, urgent and specialty care; Student Counseling Services; Wellness and Health Promotion; student health insurance; support services; the faculty-staff clinic; physical and occupational therapy; and the dental clinic.
By tripling the number of exam rooms, the new building will improve patient privacy and flow. It also will provide new spaces for continuing education and health programs.
“My understanding is they’re probably going to build this ahead of schedule and on or under budget,” Neinstein said. “President Nikias, who felt it needed to be done, was very supportive.”
To mark the opening of the building, Student Affairs is launching the “Be Well USC” campaign to encourage the Trojan Family to live healthy, happy, fully realized lives.
“Be Well USC is the umbrella slogan to help students see how serious the university is about developing the total being,” Jackson said. “Developing our minds, our hearts, our souls and our healthy selves so we can, to the extent possible, lead productive lives.”