UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — It’s an early fall morning. Since arriving at work after a half-hour commute, you’ve been dealing with the lingering congestion and slight headache from a late-stage head cold. By midday, your headache has worsened and your stuffy nose makes it hard to breathe. Could your cold have developed into a sinus infection?
Beginning in January 2017, employees at University Park will have an accessible and affordable way to handle a scenario like this. The new Penn State Employee Health and Wellness Center, to be located on the first floor of the Nursing Sciences Building, will be part of the University’s overall strategy to encourage a culture of health among employees. Employees will be able to “walk in” to receive treatment for a variety of minor illnesses and symptoms.
“The University is invested in ways to help employees not only learn more about health and well-being, but manage it in a better way,” said Paula Milone-Nuzzo, dean of the Penn State College of Nursing, which is partnering with Penn State Health and Penn State Human Resources to promote and deliver services. Leadership in the College of Nursing and Penn State College of Medicine discussed the possibility of offering such a service as far back as 2011.
“The concept developed as the result of discussions regarding how Penn State Health could partner with the College of Nursing to promote high-quality wellness programs and provide easily accessible acute care for Penn State employees,” said Dr. Kevin P. Black, vice dean, University Park Regional Campus and professor and C. McCollister Evarts Chair, Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation in the College of Medicine. “The idea was embraced by University leadership and progressed rapidly from there.”
The center will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, with three nurse practitioners on staff. A Penn State Health physician will be on site two days a week. Appointments will not be needed; patients will be seen on a first-come, first-served basis. Thus, an employee who arrived at work feeling fine but began having symptoms later in the day can receive timely and convenient treatment and relief for minor ailments without leaving campus.
Among the conditions for which employees could seek care are colds, flu, sinus and ear infections, allergies, bronchitis, stomach pain and minor skin conditions.
“The center will not be designed to handle life-threatening emergency situations,” Milone-Nuzzo stressed. Anyone experiencing chest pain, faintness or shortness of breath should call 911 or head to the ER immediately.
In addition, anyone with a work-related injury should be treated at Penn State’s Occupational Medicine practice in Suite 310 of the Centre Medical Science Building, directly in front of Mount Nittany Medical Center. Students will continue to seek care at the Student Health Center through University Health Services.
The Employee Health and Wellness Center will use the same payment structure as all other facilities operated by Penn State Medical Group, part of Penn State Health. Employees should remember to bring their Penn State id+ card to verify their employment status. They should also bring their medical insurance cards, regardless of whether they are covered by Penn State’s medical plan. More information about the fee structure will be available at the Penn State Human Resources website in December.