After a two-year partnership with Penn Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine, Cabrini University’s health services are opening their doors again for on-campus support. Tucked away in a corridor next to Cabrini’s dining hall, Founder’s Hall room 98 will again open full time with a new interim director of health services.
In August 2020, during the height of the pandemic, Cabrini University announced to students their agreement with PAYM. The two-year contract allowed students access to a wide range of services and health care, in person or via telemedicine, that could not be met on campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Accessing Penn Medicine services required a student to call in advance to schedule an appointment; no walk-ins were available. A shuttle bus was ready for students with no transportation to the local clinic in Radnor.
Helen Drinan, interim president of Cabrini University, said, “People had a higher expectation of a better level of service than [what] materialized during the pandemic. Now is that exclusively because of the pandemic? Is it more to do with the difficulty of having our resources off campus? Who knows?”
Although some experiences have been disappointing, several students report a good relationship with Penn Medicine.
Hannah Boone, a Cabrini junior and education major, said, “I have had a positive experience as a patient at Penn Medicine over the past eight years. I am disappointed that Cabrini is no longer a partner with them, as it comforted me knowing I could easily see doctors I am familiar with at a practice I trust.”
The Loquitur contacted Penn Medicine for their perspective, but they did not respond to our calls or emails.
Before the pandemic, Cabrini University had a nurse or nurse practitioner on campus who met students face-to-face in Founder’s Hall.
However, Cabrini did not have and will not have any doctor on campus who treats or prescribes medication.
“We didn’t go from ‘we did everything on campus’ to now we go to a Penn Medicine, Radnor, and they do everything there,” Drinan said. “We went from a service of on-site health care advice and referral to outsourced advice and referral.”
Cabrini’s health care will act as a liaison or intermediary that connects students to doctors or services not available at Cabrini.
Samantha Sturkey, a Cabrini sophomore and psychology major, said, “I haven’t used [Penn Medicine’s] resources on or off campus, but I can say on-campus resources are way better, especially for me. If I have a quick question or need some help regarding my disability, it’s easier to go down to the clinic than having to leave campus to go to Penn medicine.”
Cabrini is close to excellent medical centers in the Philadelphia area, and students will be given referrals to appropriate care. Referrals are at the center of Cabrini’s health services.
If a student needs access to birth control, Cabrini will not have a doctor on staff for consultations. However, President Helen Drinan promises that health services at Cabrini will connect students to proper physicians who can help those students.
New hire for health services
Cabrini has hired a full-time regular employee in the health services office in Founders. The employee’s start date right now is unknown. In the meantime, Cabrini has hired Betsy Grove, a registered nurse, as interim director of health services to cover current health needs.
Drinan described the health services process at Cabrini as simply walking to the health center and presenting the issue or concern to the nurse. The nurse will give medical advice or a referral if needed.
For anxious parents, families, or guardians worried about students, Drinan said Cabrini is ready to act immediately in the event of a medical crisis.
“Most of the concern that I think most parents have–certainly I had as a president of a college [in Boston] and the president of a college here–is if there’s an emergency. And if there’s an emergency, public safety is ready to act immediately and get a student off this campus to wherever they need to get.”
Cabrini offers transportation to and from First Patient Devon if a student needs to visit a doctor. Students should also talk with their primary care physicians.
Cabrini University has information and many resources on their website. Cabrini’s health services hours of operation are posted on their website too. More information here.