George Mason University

News at Mason

A holistic approach to student health

June 11, 2020   /   by Pam Shepherd

Photo by Getty Images

All Mason students have access to high-quality health care, counseling and health education at Student Health Services (SHS). Visits with a health care provider are free, and services such as supplies, immunizations, physical exams, and lab tests carry only nominal fees. Students do not need health insurance to be seen at SHS.

“SHS doctors, nurse practitioners and nurses have experience with treating a wide range of health concerns, from illness to injury, to sleep and chronic health concerns. We offer diagnostic and preventive health care services including an on-site lab, physical exams, nutrition and health counseling,” said Lisa Park, MD, executive director of SHS.

To help maintain the safety of patients and staff during the coronavirus pandemic, SHS has consolidated its in-person services to the Fairfax Clinic in order to maintain appropriate staffing and resources to deliver safe, quality care.

Prior to the pandemic, students could be seen on a walk-in basis. However, since March, SHS has shifted to scheduled appointments, which allows staff the ability to screen for symptoms of coronavirus and help protect patients and health care workers. SHS has also implemented telehealth appointments via video conference for students located in Virginia. If a telehealth appointment is not appropriate for the student’s need, an in-person appointment can be scheduled at the Fairfax Clinic or the student will be referred to a local care provider.

Students with health concerns outside of SHS hours can call a free nurse advice phone service, operated by Optum, and be provided self-care information or a referral for care when needed, according to Carol Filak, administrative director of SHS.

SHS staff can also help students with mental health screening, discuss medication management and provide referrals for counseling or other services.

“We want to make sure that students are engaging in self-care and reaching out if they need support,” Park said. “Additionally, we want students to continue caring for their health and contact a health care provider if they have symptoms of illness or a health concern. Reaching out for reliable advice from trusted and credible resources, like SHS, is always a good first step if a student has a question or concern.”

SHS is regularly adjusting to support the health care questions and needs of the Mason community, and staff members will continue to implement clinic practices to help reduce the risk of community spread of the virus, as well as help maintain the health and safety of patients and health care workers.

“[SHS is] working on plans to resume routine appointments in a way that maintains a safe environment for patients and health care workers,” said Park. “Immunizations, such as the flu shot, are vitally important to prevent other communicable disease outbreaks in our community. Preventing an outbreak of diseases other than COVID will help protect our Mason community, as well as preserve our capacity to take care of potential COVID cases on campus.”