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I’m sick…..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.” Hopefully, their illness will be a result of their new-found independence that includes lack of sleep, exercise, stress, an unhealthy diet and hygiene habits that don’t embrace enough hand-washing and can be cured quickly and easily.
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, the medicines that they used at home for symptoms of a cold; sinus infection; stomach ache or other common ailments. Sometimes they need care beyond your box. In my experience, my kids and I have had great results taking Source Naturals Wellness Formula. It has been a strong herbal defense supplement in fighting an illness that was recommended to me by a local natural health food store. Two a day for prevention but when you feel yourself coming down with something, you take 6 in the morning and 6 in the evening for two days. It has worked amazingly well for most everyone I have recommended it to.
UF’s Health Care Center is comprehensive providing both primary and specialty care, including dentistry. If it is not a medical emergency or life-threatening circumstance, it is recommended that they go online to request an appointment. If it is a medical concern that needs attention that day, having the patient data form filled out in advance.
UF Health Shands Hospital has been 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. Have your student fill out and drop off an Authorization to Release form when they begin college. It is up to them as to how much access they want to allow you. There is nothing worse than calling to find out how your sick or injured student is and being told the doctor is not authorized to talk with you.
If the health center on campus is inconvenient due to the hours or long wait times, there are alternatives. CVS has two Minute Clinics for minor illnesses. Have a discussion before dropping them off at college with an emergency plan. This should include having your student’s roommate or friends phone number, especially if they are accompanying them to the ER. I had my daughter add a phone contact titled ICE (In Case of Emergency) in the event she was 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 even on a locked phone and includes allergies, emergency contact information, and other crucial information.
We have also used MyVirtualDoctor as an option when no one else is available. There are many hospital groups and virtual doctor options that are good for minor conditions such as colds, flu, sinus infections, UTIs, pink eye, rashes, and sunburn. They are not typically covered by your insurance but they also offer other services such as prescription drug card and Electronic Medical Records Storage and Access. This is not a service for medical emergencies.
Also, we recommend having your student get a flu shot. This past year, my daughter got really sick twice; once with the bad flu and once for a bad virus. It was difficult to get an appointment during flu season (seems that most students and teachers all got hit with the flu). Read our blog here to find out places for the flu shot. Another consideration is to ask your family doctor for a recommendation of a general practitioner doctor in Gainesville. Yes, your fees pay for the student health center but her now having a Gainesville doctor will make getting an appointment a little easier. They are going to 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 (although all bets are off when the flu season hits its peak)
Be sure your student has a copy of their insurance card. If you want to send something to make your student feel better, there are many options from chicken soup your student can pick up at Chabad Jewish Student & Community Center at UF (you don’t have to be Jewish to order) to Midnight Cookies that will deliver cookies ( minimum order of $8). See our blog on Care Packages for more ideas.
And finally, remind your student to notify their professor if they will be legitimately missing class and unable to complete coursework. Including a doctor’s note is encouraged. UF students who are seen by a doctor at the Student Health Care Center and who will not be able to attend class or take an exam may be able to get an excuse note. You can find that information here.