Dordt College News

Campus Health

December 2, 2013

Campus Health Services is the place students go when they're sick, but illness prevention takes as much of the staff's time as treatment.

Campus Health’s top priority, according to Director Beth Baas, is maintaining health. In the on-campus clinic, Baas, a registered nurse, and Nurse Practitioner and Professor Kate Vander Veen record about 900 student visits each year. Many of those visits are for colds, allergies, stomach flu, or minor injuries. For more serious ailments, the staff refers students to the local medical clinic for treatment. Baas consults as needed with Dr. Jason Koelewyn (’99), a physician at the Sioux Center Medical Clinic, with whom Dordt contracts services.

“The most important part of maintaining wellness is to stay on top of things and be proactive whenever possible,” Baas says. A significant part of being proactive, she adds, is the college’s immunization requirement. During the first semester, the staff makes sure that student immunization records are up to date, putting a hold on second semester registrations if they aren’t.

Campus Health staff members also carefully watch what is happening around them. College campuses are considered “congregate living” settings by the Center for Disease Control, and Baas is always looking for symptoms that might indicate something that has the potential to spread quickly, whether it is influenza or the mumps that were on campus a few years ago. At that time Campus Health worked with the Iowa Department of Public Health to isolate those infected quickly to avoid spreading the disease as much as possible.

Baas and staff also help prepare students for the international travel required for many off-campus programs. They meet with each student to review specific medical needs, provide them with a list of recommended immunizations for the country in which they’ll study, and educate them on how to avoid illnesses carried by food, water, or insects.

And Campus Health Services offers personal counseling for students who are facing emotional and relational distress, providing quality mental health care from a Christian perspective.

“Overall, college students are a healthy population, so many of them are not so concerned with health at this point in their lives,” she says. As with any group of people, individual students are more and less concerned about what they eat and how fit they are. It’s not uncommon for personal taste and convenience to trump healthy choices during the college years.

“Students are emerging adults and their ideas about health and wellness are emerging too. What’s important is to keep providing them with information that they can use when they’re ready to hear it,” she adds.

Baas appreciates the fact that Dordt’s food service offers fresh choices and vegetarian dishes that give students healthy food options, and she notes that as students mature and especially as they move into apartments and begin cooking for themselves, they often begin to think more about how they eat.

Campus Health makes a variety of resources available that give students information about how to be well: nutrition information, fitness opportunities, counseling services, and more. This year, they’re giving all students access to Student Health 101, an online magazine for college students. They also help coordinate events like this semester’s Go for Fit program. And their counseling services are readily available by appointment.

“We see students as whole people, whether they come to us with stomach issues, homesickness, a cough, or depression,” says Baas.

“Watching students mature in their health awareness as they mature in other ways is the most rewarding part of my work,” says Baas. She and the staff consider each Dordt student’s physical and emotional wellbeing their special concern.


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