Sick at School
Get ready…it’s bound to happen. At some point, the phone will buzz and your independent college student with a 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.
When packing my daughter for college, I added a shoe-sized box that I filled with “just in case you get sick and don’t know what to do” things. Inside was a thermometer, vitamins, cough syrup, headache medicine, sinus/cold medicine, and first aid items. Just FYI, she depleted the box in her first semester; so be prepared to refill it again. There will be times when they will need care beyond the box, and the USF Student Health Services is there to help. Located next to the Marshall Center and the Bookstore, The Student Health Services offers both primary and specialty care, including urgent care, dermatology, lab work, gynecology, and psychiatry. It is always a busy place, so it is advisable to make an appointment if it is not a medical emergency or life-threatening circumstance.
If you have paid the Health fee, which is part of your tuition, then there is no cost for an office visit. Any other tests or procedures are charged at a discounted rate because of the health fee.
If the health center on campus is inconvenient due to the hours or long wait time, there are alternatives. The Nurse Advice Line (813-974-2331) can assist in answering health-related questions and determining if you need care in an emergency room or a walk-in clinic. The nearest walk-in clinic is MedExpress on Bruce B. Downs (813-977-2777) and the closest hospital is Florida Hospital, Tampa on Fletcher Ave., across the street from USF.
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. *Be sure your student has a copy of their insurance card.
This past year, my daughter got really sick twice; once with a 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). I would recommend your student getting the flu shot this year. Another consideration is to ask your family doctor for a recommendation of a general practitioner doctor in Tampa. Yes, your fees pay for the student health center but her now having a Tampa 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)
If you want to send something to make your student feel better, there are options like having chicken soup delivered directly to your student from USF Hillel. They have a Matzah Ball Soup Hotline and students or parents can call it to set up a delivery. They can be reached at 813-899-2788. 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. USF students who are seen by a doctor at the Student Health Services and who will not be able to attend class or take an exam may be able to get an excuse note.
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