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It’s bound to happen. At some point, the phone will ring and your mature, independent college student will cry “I don’t feel well. I’m siiiiiiccccck.” With the best of bad-germ luck, their illness will just be a result of their new-found independence that includes lack of sleep and exercise, too much stress, a not-always-healthy diet, and hygiene habits that don’t embrace enough hand-washing.
Knowing I would get that call at some point, I sent my daughters to school with a “things you may need that Mom thought of just in case” box. Inside was a thermometer, vitamins, and whichever medicines they used at home for symptoms of a cold, sinus infection, stomach ache, or other common ailments. But sometimes, they will need care beyond your box. In our personal experience, my kids and I have had great results taking Source Naturals Wellness Formula. Recommended to me by a local natural health food store, we have found it to be a strong, herbal defense supplement in fighting the onset of some illnesses. Taking two daily for prevention is suggested. But, when you feel yourself coming down with something, that dose then becomes 6 in the morning and 6 in the evening for two days. It has worked amazingly well for most everyone I’ve shared it with.
On Campus Sick Care
UF’s Health Care Center is comprehensive, providing both primary and specialty care, including dentistry. For any health circumstance that is not a medical emergency or life-threatening circumstance, it’s recommended that your student go online to request an appointment. If it is a medical concern that needs attention that day, it helps to have the patient data form filled out in advance.
UF Health Shands Hospital is recognized as one of the best hospitals in Florida. UF Health has four Emergency Centers as well as after-hour facilities. They are also affiliated with Care Spot Urgent Care, which has three locations in Gainesville and a fourth in Ocala. Be sure to have your student fill out and drop off an Authorization to Release form when they begin college. As a legal adult, it is up to them how much access they want to allow you. But there is nothing worse than calling to find out about your sick or injured student and being told that the doctor is not authorized to talk with you.
Other Options When Sick
If the health center on campus is inconvenient due to their hours or long wait times, there are alternatives. CVS has two Minute Clinics in Gainesville for minor illnesses. And it helps to have a discussion with your student before dropping them off at college. A prioritized plan that addresses emergencies will provide the well-thought-out process not usually available in an emergency. The plan should include you having your student’s roommate or friend’s phone number, especially if they are likely to accompany them to the ER. My daughter added the ICE identifier (In Case of Emergency) to the Emergency Access in her phone in case she was ever unable to communicate. You can add that info whether you have an iPhone or Android. For instructions, click here. Have them enter their Medical ID information. This information allows medical personnel to access the information even on a locked phone. It can include allergies, emergency contact information, and other crucial information.
We have also used MyVirtualDoctor or Teledoc as an option when nothing else is available. There are many hospital and insurance groups with virtual doctor options that are good for minor conditions such as colds, sinus infections, UTIs, pink eye, rashes, and sunburn. It helps to know ahead of time what is offered or covered by your insurance. Often included by these groups are other services such as prescription drug cards and Electronic Medical Records Storage and Access. This is NOT a service for medical emergencies.
Use a Prevent Defense, Too
We also recommend having your student get a flu shot. This past year, my daughter got really sick twice — once with a bad case of the flu and once with a nasty virus. It was difficult to get any appointment for care during flu season. (It seemed that almost every student and teacher got hit with the flu.) Read our blog here to find out places for them to get a flu shot. You can also ask your family doctor for a recommendation of a general practitioner in Gainesville. Yes, your fees do pay for the student health center. But your student having a Gainesville doctor will make getting a local appointment a little easier, and may serve your student better. They’ll be at college for four years, so establishing a relationship early may be worth it when the time comes that your student needs to be seen. Here’s hoping, anyway!
Be sure your student has a copy of their insurance card. Honestly, it’s not a bad idea for them to keep a photo of both sides in their phone as a back-up. And if you want to send something to make your student feel better, there are many options to choose: chicken soup from Chabad Jewish Student & Community Center at UF (you don’t have to be Jewish to order); Seamless, whose motto of “Whatever you’re in the mood for, wherever you’re in the mood for it, you’ve got it” includes favorite healing foods; Midnight Cookies for the spoonful-of-sugar approach (minimum order of $8), and more.
Combat Sickness with Wellness
Another wonderful Mom-stand-in resource is Mouth. Mouth has a Sick Care package filled with tea, honey sticks, crackers, as well as a Wellness Care package filled with tea and snow honey, fruit jerky, relaxing digestive bitters, healing turmeric elixir, an antioxidant-rich dark chocolate bar, healthy granola and a hand-made candle. See our blog on Care Packages for more ideas.
Finally, remind your students to notify their professor if they will be legitimately missing class and unable to complete coursework. Including a doctor’s note is recommended. UF students who are seen by a doctor at the Student Health Care Center and who are not able to attend class or take an exam may be able to get an excuse note. You can find detailed instructions and parameters here. Although it seems overwhelming at the time, this is a step that shouldn’t be overlooked.
An important closing reminder: Please make sure your student has filled out the legal forms should an emergency arise and you need to know what is going on.
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