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Ashe Center opens new Saturday hours through spring quarter

Ashe Center Saturday hours
11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

-Walk-ins only; no appointments

-Pilot program through spring quarter

SOURCE: Dr. David Baron, executive director of the Arthur Ashe Student Health & Wellness Center. Compiled by Nikki Somani, Bruin contributor.

By Nikki Somani

April 15, 2013 12:13 a.m.

Students with the sniffles during the weekend can now go to the Arthur Ashe Student Health and Wellness Center on Saturdays for walk-in appointments.

A new pilot program, which began April 6, extended the hours of the center to better accommodate the needs of students, said Dr. David Baron, executive director of the Ashe Center who also writes a column called “Ashe About Your Health” for the Daily Bruin.

The center is now open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. During Saturday hours, the first floor of the center is open for minor injury and illness services, which includes office visits and some basic testing, such as pregnancy tests and strep throat tests.

Because the Ashe Center has traditionally only been open on weekdays, many students have had to postpone their care until after the weekend, Baron said. If the students wait several days to see a clinician, their conditions could get worse.

“We don’t want people to utilize a level of care that is more intensive and costly than is appropriate for their medical problem,” Baron said. “On the same token, we don’t want people postponing their care when it would be appropriate to get care sooner,” he added.

On Saturdays, two clinicians, a student worker and at least one nurse will work at the Ashe Center, Baron said. Usually one of the managers or directors will be available as well, he added.

On the first Saturday of the program, April 6, 17 patients came into the Ashe Center. This was an appropriate number of patients for a Saturday, Baron said. Between 15 and 16 patients came in this Saturday for the walk-in services, he added.

The program does not require any additional funding. Instead, staff who work on Saturdays have reduced hours during the week so that there is no net increase in expenses for the pilot program, said John Bollard, chief of administrative services at the center.

Because the center is open for a short amount of time on Saturdays, the pilot program has not reduced any services during the week, Bollard added.

Dianna Padilla, a second-year anthropology student, said the weekend Ashe Center hours would have been useful for her. Padilla felt sick during fall quarter and had to call the 24/7 nurse hotline because Ashe was not open. The nurses on the hotline could not diagnose her over the phone, so Padilla said she had to go to the emergency room at Ronald Reagan Medical Center and was later diagnosed with strep throat.

Baron, who proposed extending access to Ashe around four or five months ago, said the changes in Ashe’s service hours are intended to help students, like Padilla, who seek medical help during the weekend.

“It struck me that students probably have as much of a need for acute medical care on a Saturday or Sunday as they would during the week,” Baron said. “And it’s really just a matter of history that this has been a Monday through Friday facility.”

After Baron proposed the extension, staff at the center worked with the UCLA Registrar’s office to survey a sample of UCLA students to learn about student preference for how to expand access to the center. A majority of the students said they preferred to have weekend hours available, said Ashley Phelps, quality, risk and safety manager at the center.

“I think it’s a good service to provide for students because a lot of them can’t make it during the week,” said Linsay Bouma, a second-year undeclared student who was working at the center greeting patients and helping them check in on Saturday.

“(The center) closes pretty early, when people are probably still in class. So people that can’t come in during the week can come in on Saturdays.”

The Ashe Center plans to evaluate the pilot program during the summer in order to determine whether the Saturday hours will continue.

“We’re starting on a small scale to see how popular it is,” Baron said. “Because if it turns out we’re providing a service that students really want and are taking advantage of, then we’re going to want to keep doing it.”

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