GSU Health Services receives $10 million grant

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Sarah Ryniker

Georgia Southern University received a $10 million grant from the state to build a new Health Services and Counseling Center facility to accommodate the growing student population.

The new building will house the Counseling Center on the top floor with Health Services on the bottom, Paul Ferguson, director of Health Services, said.

The current health building was constructed in 1977 and was meant to serve a population of less than 10,000 students, Ferguson said.

“We are going to expand our facilities. The state recognizes the need for our students’ health,” Teresa Thompson, vice president of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, said.

In the current building there is a concern about patient health information confidentiality and privacy, which is a big issue for healthcare staff, Ferguson said.

“We meet HIPPA’s (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) guidelines, but we would like to do better. It’s a challenge in the space we are in now,” Tammy Howard, coordinator of Office Services at Health Services, said.

“Between 2005 and 2010 the staff population has grown from eighteen to fifty. This staff increase has led to the overcrowding of the facilities in various offices and inadequate space for patients,” according to the Health Center and Counseling Center Facility Report conducted last year.

The new building will have more privacy, more space and separate waiting rooms for different segments of health services, Howard said.

“Right now, we have less than half of the exam room space we need. The space limitations are significant,” Ferguson said.

According to the GSU Health Facility Plan, the new building will most closely resemble the Auburn University Health Care Center, a 41,684-sq. foot building.

Several state university health centers such as the University of Georgia Health Center, Georgia Tech University Health Center, Valdosta State University Health Center and University of Delaware Health Center were also studied for potential design and functionality, Ferguson said.

“We have not started official planning for the new building. None of the steps have been taken yet,” Howard said.

The Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care has inspected GSU’s Health Services for possible reaccreditation.

The areas inspected were the rights of patients, administration, quality of care provided, quality of management and improvement, clinical records and infection prevention and control safety.

GSU is currently awaiting notification of national accreditation, Ferguson said.

If approved, GSU will be one of three accredited student health centers in Georgia alongside Emory University and Georgia Tech, Ferguson said.

Thompson said, “This will validate all the good work that has already been going on. Our staff does an extremely good job in healthcare.”