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As flu season approaches, Campus Health offers short- and long-term care for students

A sign directing community members toward the UNC Campus Health Services building is pictured on Monday, Nov. 29, 2021.

As colder months draw closer, UNC students add one more concern to their lists: how to deal with becoming sick during busier times, especially in high-capacity settings.

To address both chronic and acute illness, Campus Health offers in-person and online appointments for those seeking care. UNC students can visit Campus Health's website to register for primary care, nutrition, gynecology or immunization appointments, or request other forms of care through the Healthy Heels Portal or by phone.

But, for students to get the most out of their appointments, there are some important details Campus Health providers can offer.

Dr. Ruth Lotz, a Campus Health primary care provider, said it is important to know that when students sign up for an appointment, it is typically a 20-minute appointment — though the time can be extended for allotted care.

While those 20 minutes are ideally spent with a provider, appointments also involve checking medical insurance, as well as blood pressure, temperature, weight and other vital signs, she said.

“I think if (students) understand that it is worth coming a few minutes early to get the initial process out of the way so that they have more time to actually spend with the provider, I think it is quite helpful,” said Lotz. 

Dr. Kyle Tamminga, a Campus Health primary care provider and president of medical staff, said arriving early is a way of encouraging mindfulness toward other students, who have their own schedules and want their concerns addressed.

“We know how busy you all are, too, with classes, and you need to get to certain things and you have obligations too,” he said. “So, it helps maintain that schedule and that timing of everything.”

Additionally, Lotz said Campus Health encourages continuity of care, taking preventative measures to protect one’s health and well-being. Campus Health is not restricted to acute care, which refers to brief but serious periods of illness that require attention for proper recovery.

“It’s a good time because you are now independent to ask questions, to learn how you need to approach your own health and what you need to do to stay healthy, and having that conversation,” Lotz said. “It’s difficult to do if you’re coming in for a cold and that’s the only interaction that we have.”

Tamminga said Campus Health assists students with their annual physicals and preventative care, functioning as a primary care office for those who need to address chronic ailments. He said he helps care for many students with chronic medical conditions requiring follow-up visits for medication management and general check-ins.

Students can reference the Campus Health website to see which providers would best suit their concerns, where they can then establish a relationship so they know who to contact when issues arise, said Dr. Thevy Chai, director of medical services and a primary care physician at Campus Health.

For diabetic patients or those needing gender-affirming care, she said it is especially important to have regular check-ups, so Campus Health providers are open to building relationships to maintain and improve student health.

“If you went to an acute care place or urgent care in the community, it may just be that one-time visit, but with us, we have the opportunity to really be a team with that student who’s not feeling well until they get better — back to normal,” Chai said.

For student concerns and suggestions, Chai said students can contact Campus Health through their website, which offers email addresses and phone numbers with available sources. Also, she said that Campus Health has an online suggestion box where students may offer ideas for improvement of care and services.

“We do strive to be a place that’s safe, confidential,” Chai said. “One that can meet the student where they are.”


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