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USG approves Student Health Services on Gainesville Campus

A new Student Health Services will open in spring 2020 on the north side of University of North Georgia's Gainesville Campus. The center will feature a walk-in clinic, a pharmacy with the most common and over-the-counter medications. Flu shots will also be available.

When the new health clinic opens in spring 2020 on University of North Georgia's (UNG) Gainesville Campus, students with a cold or in need of a flu shot will be able to see a nurse or doctor and take home medication if needed.

The University System of Georgia (USG) Board of Regents (BOR) approved the plan for a Student Health Services facility at its April 2019 meeting. The service allows the Gainesville Campus to take another step toward a more comprehensive environment and holistic health approach for students.

"We have psychological and emotional help services through Student Counseling," said Dr. Richard Oates, vice president of the Gainesville Campus. "Having Student Health Services on site is a logical addition to support the healthy lifestyles of our students."

The center will be funded through a mandatory $65 student fee, which mirrors the Dahlonega Campus; the health services fee in Dahlonega will drop in spring 2020 from $70 to $65 per semester. It also means students on both campuses may access both facilities, said Dr. Alyson Paul, dean of students on the Gainesville Campus.

"We have students who live in Gainesville but take classes in Dahlonega and vice versa," she said. "Now those students can go to the clinic that is most convenient for them."

Paul, associate vice president of Student Affairs, said students "overwhelmingly" support the addition of Student Health Services on the Gainesville Campus, even with the price tag. She explained the support came from student surveys. Oates said that the approval speaks volumes.

"Our Gainesville students agreed to a fee increase to offset the cost of providing health services because they know the value of it," he said. "They know if they are sick, they can seek medical help and heal. When our students feel better, they perform better and are more engaged."

The board's vote shows it agrees, Oates said.

"Having the support of the Board of Regents demonstrates that they value the students' needs and have made it a high priority," he said.

Student Health Services will be located on the north side of the Gainesville Campus, which formerly housed Lanier Technical College. The specific building will be the first to undergo renovations, which will be funded by UNG. State designated money to renovate the former Lanier Tech property will not be used on the Student Health Services building.

It will feature a walk-in clinic, a pharmacy with the most common prescriptions and over-the-counter medications with no additional out-of-pocket expenses, Paul said.

"Students can go there and get their Advil, allergy medication, ChapStick, condoms and sunscreen for free," she said. "The pharmacy will also provide the most common antibiotics for free."

Paul said the $65 fee is a good deal for all UNG students, especially since a single doctor's visit with an insurance co-pay and prescription can easily cost the same. Plus, UNG students will not be limited on visits and can stock up on health-related products.

Students also will not have to call for appointments because the clinic will offer walk-in services, which was intentional.

"Students can walk in and see a doctor or nurse in between their classes," Paul said.

The opening of the new health center is expected right around the start of next year's flu season.

"We will get rolling right off the bat," Paul said. "And our students are excited."

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