It’s there for students’ cuts, bruises, worries, allergies, emergencies and day-to-day check-ups. Cal Poly’s Health and Counseling Services, located next to the new Recreation Center, has been a fixture on Cal Poly’s campus for more than five decades, and supported at least partially by student fees since 1993.
Today, Health and Counseling Services is supported entirely by two student fees: the Health Services Fee — which covers staff pay and basic supplies — and the Health Facilities Fee — which covers upkeep of the facilities as well as larger capital improvements.
In the past, the state helped support the on-campus health center, but recent budget cuts have meant students now pay for nearly 100 percent of the services provided there, Health and Counseling Services director Martin Bragg said.
The cost of the Health Services Fee itself is determined by the higher education price index. Cal Poly determines how much funding the fee will bring in each year and chooses Health and Counseling Services budgets from there, Bragg said.
“The campus estimates what health services fee will be and we try to match that,” Bragg said.
For 2011–12, Health and Counseling Services received a little more than $5 million in Health Services Fee money. Most of this money goes to salaries, Bragg said.
For health services, a little more than 80 percent of the funding pays for staff salaries, while the rest is used for lab work, medication, bandages and other basic health supplies, Bragg said.
Nutrition sophomore June Hope goes to the health center every time she’s sick. The services provided there are more than worth the fee, Hope said.
“(The Health Center has) the cheapest medicine, (it’s) convenient and the staff’s just super nice,” Hope said.
Counseling naturally has a lower supply cost, so close to 90 percent of counseling funding is used to pay salaries. While the Health Services Fee pays people and purchases supplies, the Health Facilities Fee is a little more flexible, Bragg said.
A small portion of the Health facilities Fee is also used to cover building upkeep, while the rest is budgeted out for capital projects and big-ticket items.
“If we need a new X-ray machine, we can use it to buy that,” Bragg said.
The Health Facilities Fee revenue amounts to approximately $175,000 per year, and most of it is budgeted for improvements according to a four-year plan, Bragg said. In the past 10 years, the fee has been used to re-roof and re-carpet the health center, as well as expand the X-ray room and urgent care waiting area.
Health Facilities Fee money is also used on occasion to purchase more expensive items on short notice, instead of using Health Services Fee money, Bragg said.
“On occasion, if we have a big-ticket item, then we may make a determination on which fund would be better to use,” Bragg said.
Both fees, which students pay each quarter, help keep the health center’s services affordable, Bragg said. On average, Health and Counseling Services sees 65 percent of the student body, Bragg said, offering free emergency care and low-cost prescriptions, lab work and elective physicals.
“If you want to get a scuba physical, then that’ll cost you $25,” Bragg said.
Most of the other services, however, are already paid for by fees. For the cost, the Health Center is a valuable on-campus service, Bragg said, especially to students who don’t have health insurance, or are covered under health maintenance organizations (HMOs) that only pay for health care in their hometown.
The students who make use of the Health Center facilities agree.
Wine and viticulture freshman Shannon Leary said she is happy with her Health Center costs.
Leary went once this year when she had an ear infection and purchased antibiotics as well as Advil and Sudafed during her visit. Leary said she was impressed by how little it cost her.
“It was like $12 for all of that stuff,” Leary said. “I think it’s really good.”