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USC Engemann Student Health Center open nearly a year

Engemann Student Health Center
Since opening its doors in January, the Engemann Student Health Center has transformed student health services at USC. (USC Photo/Dietmar Quistorf)

It’s been featured on the cover of a magazine, boasts a five-star Yelp rating and received more than 1,000 likes on Facebook when it opened its doors on Jan. 5.

Since then, the USC Engemann Student Health Center has been receiving rave reviews from students, doctors, faculty and staff. The 105,000-square-foot, five-story building combines medical services that, in the past, had been spread out both on and off campus in eight buildings. It is literally one-stop shopping for student health and wellness services.

And it didn’t take long for USC students to take notice and post comments such as these on Yelp:

“One of my favorite buildings at USC. It truly is a work of art — pristine, new welcoming. Most importantly, there are SO MANY medical services offered here.”

“Honestly, the new health center is amazing. Gorgeous.”

“Wow! This place knocked my socks off! You can even swipe your USC card and it will bring up your appointment! LEGIT.”

This new state-of-the-art facility, pictured on a recent cover of The Journal of American College Health, has consolidated more than 16 services into one location, including: primary and urgent care, counseling, laboratory, radiology, wellness, dental care, physical and occupational therapy, immunizations, health insurance and a pharmacy. The spacious center also houses specialty services such as dermatology, allergy, gynecology, acupuncture and chiropractic, as well as a resource center and conference rooms for student use, and a faculty/staff clinic.

The number of student medical services has grown dramatically over the years. As USC transformed into a residential university, students’ needs transformed as well.

Larry Neinstein, professor of pediatrics and medicine and executive director of the health center, cited these statistics:

• In 1995, the center gave 500 immunizations a year; in 2012, that number had grown to 20,000.

• In 1995, the number of individual student visits was just under 35,000.

• In 2012, 94,000 students had one-on-one visits with a doctor, nurse or counselor.

Visitors enter through an open lobby with a shimmering aluminum mobile overhead. (Photo/Joel Zwink)

Visitors enter through an open lobby with a shimmering aluminum mobile overhead. (Photo/Joel Zwink)

Michele and Roger Engemann responded to the need for more space and more services with a $15 million lead gift to build a new health center. At the Jan. 29 grand opening, USC Trustee Michele Dedeaux Engemann ’68 regaled the crowed with her undergraduate memories of the university’s old student health center, built in 1949. One morning she was summoned to the health center for a gamma globulin shot because a fellow cast member in a theater production had contracted hepatitis.

“The health center was so crowded, I had to get mine in the hallway, baring a little portion of my tushie to get that shot,” she said. “I vowed that someday this would be better. So now, it is.”

The days of immunizations administered in hallways are definitely over. The old center had four urgent care rooms and 12 primary care exam rooms; the new center has 16 urgent care rooms and 34 primary care exam rooms. Exam rooms formerly doubled as doctors’ offices, but that too has changed. As Neinstein explained, “It’s really improved the flow tremendously.”

Neinstein talked about the “artistic way” the building was designed: “It’s airy. It’s pleasant. It doesn’t feel like you are walking into an ER.”

The building combines warm travertine marble with wood and glass surfaces illuminated by natural light from its many windows. Even the directional signs on each floor have a graphic flourish.

Contrast that to the old facilities, which were, in Neinstein’s words, falling apart.

“Now we have one of the best student health centers, if not the best,” he said. “We’re actually having people from different agencies, including Kaiser and Cedars-Sinai, visit us and look at this building as a model for outpatient and ambulatory health care.”

Services for faculty and staff — which can also be used by students on the USC student health insurance plan — have been transformed as well. The third floor houses the Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC Faculty Practice as well as the Faculty-Staff Clinic. Students can use their USC dental insurance for the dental faculty practice and, if they have a referral, make appointments with Keck School of Medicine of USC doctors at the Faculty-Staff Clinic instead of traveling to the Health Sciences Campus.

After just one semester in the new health center, Neinstein already has plans to update student services. An Engemann app is being developed that will allow students to do on their smartphones everything they now do online — such as make appointments, “secure message” their health care providers and check their immunization records. In the spring, he hopes to launch an app that will allow students to check themselves in for appointments with their smartphones as soon as they enter the building.

As new assistant provost of student health and wellness, Neinstein also wants to focus on every kind of wellness issue — whether it be injuries, mental health or anxiety, men’s health or women’s health.

And with his fondness for social media, Neinstein is no doubt looking to student comments for ways to make the center even better.

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USC Engemann Student Health Center open nearly a year

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