Transforming Student Health Services at Bates

Over the past two years, our campus community has been engaged in a wide range of conversations as part of the Campus Culture Working Group and Institutional Planning. One topic that regularly rose to the surface involved greater student access to high quality medical and mental health services. The retirement of our Director of Health Services at the end of the academic year presented a natural opportunity to review and evaluate health services at Bates.

Here’s What We Heard From You

Health care services are on your mind and require the college’s attention and action. Over the past academic year, students provided thoughtful, specific feedback to the college in a number of forums, including numerous discussions with student leaders during Short Term. Additionally, we reviewed past senior survey results, which reflected considerable dissatisfaction with the health services offered. From these forums and the survey data, we learned that your top areas of concern include the following:

  • Quality of medical care, including access to diagnostic testing
  • Credentials of medical staff
  • Inconsistent hours of operation
  • Physical condition of the Health Services
  • Confidentiality and privacy
  • Management of medical records
  • Lack of mental health prevention and education programming
  • Turnover of mental health professionals
  • Lack of clarity about how to access after-hours mental health care

With these concerns in mind, we conducted an extensive review of the Health Services, comparing our services to recognized best practices in college student medical and mental health services. Guided by your feedback and this review, we are implementing a series of measures to strengthen both Health Services and Counseling and Psychological Services at Bates. The process began this summer with a significant renovation of 31 Campus Avenue. We look forward to welcoming students to the new space in September.

A Unique Opportunity

With convenient access to leading health care experts and facilities within walking distance to Bates, we reached out locally to find a clinical provider to enhance our medical services on campus. Beginning in September, Bates College Health Services will begin a new era.  Central Maine Medical Center (CMMC) will become the provider of on-campus medical care.  This arrangement will afford students greater access to a wide range of medical specialists, and easier access to after-hours care when Health Services is closed. This innovative relationship will allow Bates to implement a series of enhancements designed to address the concerns raised by students, including:

  • Greater access to medical specialties
  • Participation in CMMC’s  state-of-the-art electronic medical records system to better coordinate student care and ensure appropriate oversight of access to medical information
  • Expanded onsite laboratory diagnostics services
  • Pharmacy services (on-campus delivery via courier and mail)
  • Consistent operating hours
  • Continuity of care after hours at CMMC Urgent Care
  • Convenient and efficient appointment scheduling
Staff at Health Services

While you will see some new faces in Health Services, you will also see several longstanding staff, including Cindy Visbaras (Associate Director), Doris Ducharme (Patient Services Representative), Margaret Leonard (Registered Nurse), and Bernard Vigna (Registered Nurse). Our partnership with CMMC will offer on-campus access to highly qualified clinical personnel during operating hours.

Hours of Operation and Access to 24/7 Care

After a thorough review of Health Services utilization by our students as well as practices at other colleges, Health Services will now be open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday during the academic year. By an overwhelming margin, our utilization data showed that students access health care services at Bates during these hours. In response to this pattern, students will now be better served, with increased staffing during these hours.

In past years, Health Services has been closed until classes begin and during all college breaks. Given that all of our students begin to arrive the week before classes begin, Health Services will now open the first day that first-year students arrive on campus. In addition, Health Services will now be open during those breaks in which many students still remain on campus, in particular, student-athletes — Fall Recess in October and Spring Recess in April.

Outside of our on-campus operating hours, students have easier access to CMMC’s Urgent Care Clinic and Central Maine Medical Center, providing our students round-the-clock access to high quality medical care. All of CMMC’s practices and hospital services, including their retail pharmacy, utilize a common electronic medical record system to ensure continuity of care.  To make access to the Urgent Care Clinic easy for students on weekends, the Bates Weekend Shuttle will make trips there on Saturdays and Sundays.

Counseling & Psychological Services

To enhance counseling and mental health services for students, we have hired three Bates staff members to lead Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS). Full-time staff will be augmented by a number of returning part-time clinicians with specialties in particular areas. Mental health services will continue to be offered to students in the same location (31 Campus Avenue, 2nd Floor) from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday during the academic year. 

With a new, full-time core leadership team in CAPS, we will be able to continue to provide comprehensive counseling and psychological services. Additionally, CAPS will now have the capacity to:

  • Connect with students and student organizations outside of clinical hours to better understand student needs
  • Provide outreach and clinical services to better address the needs of students
  • Offer programs to help students learn stress-reduction and coping skills outside of the clinical setting
  • Implement an electronic medical records system to better coordinate student mental health services
  • Partner with an organization to provide after hours mental health crisis response services
Staff at Counseling and Psychological Services

In the fall, you will meet the new Director of CAPS, Kate Staley, a psychologist. You will also see a number of familiar faces including the other full-time members of our CAPS leadership team, Erin Haynes (Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner), and Jessica Mayo (Psychologist/Therapist). Other returning part-time staff members will include Luke Douglass, Wendy Kjeldgaard, Andrea Eusden, Jill Willer, and Dr. Theresa Hermida. To learn more about the CAPS staff, please click here.

Additional Information and Where to Direct Questions

If you have questions about these changes, we encourage you to explore the Health Services and CAPS websites. You may also send any questions to healthservices@bates.edu or caps@bates.edu respectively. Finally, during the first week of classes, we will host drop-in hours to answer any questions you may have. These drop-in hours will be announced in Bates Today.

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