Editorial: Contagious Check-in

In the past few months, Western Carolina University’s Health Center made a change to how students check-in when they arrive at Bird Building for their medical appointments.

Now, instead of notifying the front desk that you are here on time to see one of the doctors or nurse practitioners, students must use one of two computers to check-in. A student can either swipe his or her Cat Card or type in his or her 920 number, then go through a short series of checking boxes to complete the form. This may sound like an efficient way to run the Health Center, but look at the problem again.

What do the students have to encounter in order to complete this process?

Student after student after student must touch the same keyboard and mouse in order to check-in for their appointment. That means that the guy with flu symptoms touches the mouse before the girl who needs a physical before the graduate student with strep throat before the staff member with possible pneumonia. The system now appears to be everything the WCU Health Center does not want to be. To top it off, there is no hand sanitizer or gloves available at the check-in stations for students aware of this highly possible swapping of germs. Now, Health Center employees may wipe down and disinfect the computer systems every night, but that does not help the students who visit the Center during the one day.

According to the Health Center’s forms for new students, the facility “strives to provide friendly, efficient and effective healthcare for you while you are a student, and our staff considers us as your primary care provider away from home.” How can they can “provide . . . efficient and effective healthcare” when they are blatantly exposing students to a variety of contagious illnesses through their check-in system?

We at The Western Carolinian would like to protest and demand either a healthier way to check-in for our medical appointments or to return to the old system of speaking to the receptionist at the front desk. Otherwise, students should be aware that they need to bring a sanitary napkin, wear medical gloves or visit a different clinic if they want a significantly lesser chance of catching a virus or cold from one of their fellow Catamounts.