While the rest of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette has gone online, the Saucier Wellness Center has remained open at its normal hours of operation for both health and counseling services.
However, for the health area of the Center, patients are scheduled a bit differently due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes visits known as telehealth visits.
“Telehealth basically means that we are going to evaluate you by interview on the phone,” Chris Hayes, M.D., said. “We don’t have any kind of video conferencing setup at this point that’s not going to be potentially hackable. So the most confidential way for us to do telehealth is by phone interview.”
If a telehealth visit is sufficient, then a prescriber, either Hayes or Nurse Practitioner, Amy Landry, will write a prescription if needed that will be sent to the closest pharmacy to the student.
“Normally we wouldn’t be just phoning in antibiotics because it’s not good medicine to treat something if we aren’t sure that it’s there,” Hayes continued. “But right now we’re doing it because it’s better than not treating it.”
Hayes also made it a point to note that if a student or anybody needs to pick up a prescription, go to a drive-through if possible because a pharmacy is one of the most dangerous places a person can be.
“A couple of the pharmacies in Lafayette are getting around that they don’t have a drive-thru function by curbside pick-up,” Hayes said. “You pull up to the door and honk your horn and one of the pharmacy techs comes out to your car and gives you your medicine.”
Unfortunately, not all visits can be done over the phone, and sometimes students have to come in. This may be because the student needs their blood pressure checked and they do not have a cuff at home or they need someone to listen to their lungs.
“Right now we have divided our clinic day, Monday through Thursday, we’ve divided it up into mornings, when we’re seeing patients that have non-respiratory problems, that are not likely to be COVID-19, but that can’t wait until the restrictions for telehealth visits have been lifted,” Hayes said.
In the afternoon, the clinic is open to those who have respiratory issues or a fever or something that indicates that they are more likely to have coronavirus.
The staff also makes sure that they are completely covered to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“It’s a head-to-toe coverage basically, respirator, mask, eye-protection, gloves, gown, the whole nine yards,” she explained. “It’s kind of scary when you come in the afternoon for a head cold and you see us all decked out.”
Hayes added as a final note that people should not be coming into the clinic for services that are not urgent.
“I want people to understand that they call student health services and they have a routine request, or wellness services to be provided, like a vaccine,” Hayes said. “I would hope they would understand that now is not the time to be doing those types of visits.”
The counseling center is still open as well, but they are only doing telehealth visits; however, they do offer video chat.
“It’s telemental health, in general, and we do offer the option of phone or video conferencing,” Kristy Fusilier, Ph.D., said.
The counseling center also offers a wide range of screenings online, including ADHD and bipolar disorder.
“We’re still doing the screenings on our website,” Fusilier said. “They’re free, and they can be accessed at any time.”