Michael overhaul

Students say Health Services’ South Campus location proves problematic


Michael Hall houses UB’s Student Health Services, a full-service medical clinic available to any student of the university, but it’s located on South Campus, away from most of the on-campus student population.

While there have been several plans in the past to move Student Health Services to North Campus, Michael Hall is still the primary medical clinic for many students. The long-proposed move has failed to overcome various budgeting and space issues. With roughly 6,000 students on North Campus and only 1,000 on South Campus according to UB spokesperson John Della Contrada, some feel the clinic would serve students better if located on North Campus. Some are also not satisfied with the quality of current services at Michael Hall.

The administration is aware of these concerns.

“The university remains committed to facilities on the North Campus that meet the health, wellness and recreation needs of our students,” said Scott Weber, vice president of Student Life in an email. “As we study various options and their funding models to move these ideas forward, we hope to present some options for student input later this academic year.”

Director of Student Health Services Susan Snyder described a new medical center located along North Campus’s Academic Spine as a “dream.” UB called off a proposed move to the Richmond Quad in 2011 due to financial concerns over necessary asbestos removal. Another proposed move to Richmond the following year looked more promising.

“We looked into opening a location in the old Richmond dining hall space. We were very excited about the plan and we were hoping we could start to move in that direction, but the budget for that plan was very expensive,” Snyder said. “The initial price tag was about $13 million, which would have been a lot for a suboptimal location hidden away in the Ellicott Complex.”

The physical structure of Michael Hall – a building Snyder describes as “landlocked” – also presents multiple problems. The building has no elevators, making it not handicap accessible. Most services are limited to the first floor. This restricts Student Health Services from expanding properly.

“Ideally, we would expand the lab a little bit, maybe we could move the pharmacy up on to the first floor from the basement,” Snyder said. “We might be able to offer additional services but we are maxed out on space.”

Snyder feels the administration understands how “largely beneficial for students” a new North Campus medical facility with space to grow would be.

Students have mixed feelings on Michael Hall’s location and services.

Ashley Pesano, a senior psychology and communication major, made the trip down to South Campus after being bed-ridden for four days. She felt Student Health Services was “unfriendly and unhelpful.”

“I finally took the bus down to South Campus, and the nurse just asked me like two questions and said ‘here, just get Mucinex D and you’ll be fine,’” Pesano said. “I tried to ask questions about it but no one was friendly and no one was helpful. They basically told me ‘just go to sleep and have chicken soup and orange juice,’ the kind of advice I’d tell a friend but not something you’d expect to hear from a professional.”

Snyder has heard complaints similar to these and welcomes them. She explained that many students come looking for a “magic” cure but they often recommend more “self-care stuff.”

“I get that that doesn’t feel great,” Snyder said. “You came in looking for something that would cure you.”

Typical appointments with Student Health Services last roughly 20 minutes as part of an effort to “not waste the students’ time.” Snyder said that sometimes because of this, the patient education side of the visit may be “regrettably short changed.”

Haleigh Morgan, a junior English major, said she appreciated the speediness of Michael Hall.

“I called the morning I woke up feeling sick and they were able to get me an appointment scheduled a couple hours later,” Morgan said. “They didn’t make me wait very long or anything and they were all pretty nice.”

Both Morgan and Pesano felt the South Campus location was detrimental to students, especially for the sick.

“I don’t mind taking the bus, but when I’m sick, it’s definitely an inconvenience,” Morgan said.

Dan McKeon is copy chief and can be reached at dan.mckeon@ubspectrum.com