Telehealth is a call away for students

Olivia Doak

The Augustana community now has 24/7 access to free online services for both physical and mental health. 
Digital clinics, virtual therapy sessions and immediate mental health resources are now readily available to the student body. All in addition to the in-person services offered by the new on-campus clinic.  
In a world where every in-person interaction puts people at risk, having these kinds of resources and knowing how to access them is critical in promoting student wellness.
William Iavarone, director of counseling, is excited for the new telehealth services as it allows for more students to be seen at a quicker rate. 
“We’ve always wanted to find a way where students can access services when they’re not on campus,” Iavarone said. “Second, we wanted to find a way to reduce the wait time for our services.”
Iavarone says the new telemedical service allows students to book appointments with short waiting times and fill prescribed medications. 
In addition to physical health services, there are also virtual mental health resources. Students can now access up to six therapy sessions a year in addition to the counseling services offered through Augustana.
Another resource called “TalkNow” provides immediate mental health support. With a wait time of five minutes or less, students can get support from licensed clinicians or individuals with a master’s degree in the field. 
Dr. Wes Brooks, dean of students, said it was a lucky coincidence that the telehealth services were made available amidst a pandemic. 
“Health and wellness, student counseling and student well being are major initiatives at Augustana College that I couldn’t be prouder of, and pandemic or not, this will continue to be an area of emphasis for us moving forward,” Dr. Brooks said. 
Dr. Brooks links the success of the new clinic to the work done by students over the last few years. 
“Students have called for this,” Dr. Brooks said. “They have reached out to administration, they have reached out to different faculty members and really put together a strong proposal for a health clinic.”
Kaitlyn Watkins, president of the Student Government Association (SGA), said the idea came out of Dr. Lena Hann’s public health course. The idea was pitched to the cabinet back in 2017, according to Watkins, and was pushed forward by SGA for the past three years. 
“I hope that when students walk by the health clinic they remember that it came out of another student’s idea,” Watkins said. “And I hope that serves as a reminder that we [the students] do have a lot of influence on our community.”
Reporting contribution by Brady Johnson.