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Navigating the Health Care Center

Written by Kalee Eichelberger, former member of the National Council of College Leaders

Hi, my name is Kalee Eichelberger. I recently graduated from the University of Florida with a B.S. in Nutritional Science and minor in Disability in Society and wanted to share what I’ve learned along the way. Getting ready for college can be an intimidating process, especially when you have a chronic illness and are unsure of what life will throw your way. It’s important to make sure you have supports in place in case you might need them.

  1. Student health care center: The student health care center differs depending on the university, but it’s consistently a good resource for students on campus. At UF, you are assigned a primary care team that becomes familiar with your medical history, and you can schedule appointments with them specifically. My healthcare center is affiliated with the university hospital, so if they feel I need further help, my team can consult with specialists or transfer me there. I could also get immunizations, blood work, get my biologics shipped and stored there in a refrigerator, and receive my infusions or injections from one of their nurses. Communication is key between your healthcare team and the health care center. I mostly used the health care center when I was in a pinch and because of its convenient location, but overall I had a very positive experience and it was a great place to ask questions.
  2. Dining hall: The dining hall can be a bit intimidating for someone with IBD, but there are a couple important facts to keep in mind. Firstly, there are different types of meals plans like unlimited packages, flexible spending, etc. so make sure to do some research and pick the plan that’s best for you. Secondly, depending on your type of dorm setup or living situation, going without a dining plan might be a better option. I spent my four years without one and cooked for myself using a kitchenette and help from my roommates. Lastly, meet with dining hall staff or the area’s manager to discuss any concerns you might have about your meal plan, such as dietary restrictions, allergies, flare-friendly foods, and other special considerations. In my experience, since you are paying for this plan, staffers are more than willing to help!
  3. Disability Resource Center: Disability Services are required by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Medical Accommodations offered through my school’s Disability Resource Center have been instrumental to my success in college. I was assigned a staff member that I met with the beginning of each semester to fine-tune my accommodations, so planning ahead and scheduling an appointment early is important. I was given a letter of accommodation to send to each professor and provided with contacts if I ran into any issues. It is important to meet with Disability Services ahead of time to receive accommodations as early as possible instead of having to learn the hard way like I did. We’ll discuss this more in our next post!
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