A high-level administrator who oversees the health center says he needs proof that SAC reduced assigned nursing hours before he acts.
Interim Vice President of Student Services Arnulfo Cedillo claims that the center is fully staffed, while the center’s employees blame budget cuts and lack of organization for the drop-in available nursing hours to students.
In an interview Tuesday, Cedillo countered that he was unaware of any shifts in hours and that he has only visited Santa Ana College’s Student Health and Wellness Center “once or twice” in the beginning of the spring semester.
“I’m not over there, and I don’t go over there because I have to trust that folks are doing what they’re supposed to do,” Cedillo said.
Students requiring on-campus medical services by a registered nurse may be denied after the health center continues to have reduced available nurse hours from last semester.
Although the center is open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., walk-in nurse hours are limited. As of May, nurses remain available each day for four hours from Mondays through Wednesdays and six hours on Thursdays — there is no nurse on Fridays.
The nursing hours change monthly. March and April did not have a walk-in nurse on Tuesdays, but have since added a nurse to cover that day for four hours.
If a student requests nurse-specific services, such as checking blood pressure or receiving immunizations, without an available nurse, a SAC student is directed to Santiago Canyon College or a different health center in Santa Ana.
“As of March, there were at least 17 SAC students who sought a nurse and were sent to SCC’s health center,” said SCC Health Services Coordinator Beth Hoffman.
Each semester, SAC students pay a $19 health fee, which helps fund a portion of the health center’s budget. By spring 2017, SAC’s enrollment dropped by over 10,000 students according to reports by the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office. Enrollment effects the health center budget, as less students are paying the fee. The decline also effects Santa Ana’s large college status, which in turn leads to less state funding.
Despite SAC students paying the mandatory health fee every semester, many are unaware of the center’s new hours.
“Communication is the issue. If they are cutting down on services for taxpayers, we should know,” said SAC senior Andrew Noll, expressing his concern for students unaware of these changes.
“If there is a challenge about service hours or service providers I would like for them to follow the proper channel. If a change needs to be made, let us make those changes,” Cedillo said.
Santiago Canyon serves half the number of students at SAC, but SCC offers about double the number of available nurse hours. With the Santiago Canyon Health Center staffed by registered nurses, students can access nurse services through the center’s hours of operation. SCC students also pay the same health fee.
“[RSCCD students] should have the same number of hours for both schools. There are double the number of students at SAC than SCC, so why would [SAC’s] hours be cut and not SCC’s?” said sophomore Valerie Velazquez, who studies at both campuses.
The Health and Wellness Center offers a variety of medical services, such as free condoms, STI testing and vaccinations. Students may also receive treatment for injuries and outside clinic referrals. They can also visit Psychological Services for therapy sessions and personal counseling, while the doctor is available by appointment for health examinations and family planning.
Cedillo recommends to set up tables and give away “swag” to attract more students toward the health center.