Campus health clinics

Students complain about the services; clinics say they are unaware of any problems

by Jenny Wong

Good performance and quality of university health service are important as the health service is responsible for the health care of the tertiary students.

Although some students complain about the services provided, in fact the clinics themselves report that they receive few complaints about their services.

Not many students know how their university health services are run. Different tertiary institutions have different ways of running their university health services.

The University of Hong Kong and The Chinese University of Hong Kong each set up a University Health Service. Their structures are quite similar.

The University Health Services in both institutions are supervised by their own University Health Services Committees.

The University Health Services Committee in the University of Hong Kong has representatives from the Student Union, the Academic Staff Association and Non-Academic Staff Association. Meanwhile, that of The Chinese University is more or less the same, with the Vice Chancellor as the chairperson.

However, it is a totally different case in the Hong Kong Baptist University. The Student Affairs Office employs a private clinic group for providing health service.

The clinic supplies human resources and medicine while the university provides facilities and a site. The Student Health Services Users Group is responsible for giving advice and plans for development.

Common clinical services can be found in every clinic on campus.

Apart from consultation on general health problems, the clinics are also in charge of some educational and promotional activities, preventive activities and general advisory and counselling services.

Other services such as referral and physiotherapy are also provided if necessary. They also care about the mental health of the students.

Meanwhile, some special services are provided in different universities.

The Hong Kong University Health Service provides domiciliary visits. Visits are made to students residing at halls upon the request of the Warden. Staff residing at the university premises also enjoy such benefit. It also provides assistance for disabled persons.

The Chinese University Health Service provides after-office-hour services. Services like health advice, first-aid, nursing service and infirmary care are provided. These services are especially important for those students and staff living in hostels on campus.

At the City University of Hong Kong, the Student Medical Relief Fund and the Student Dental Relief Fund are set up for students in financial difficulties.

Students may apply for assistance from these funds to pay for all or part of the medical and dental services.

Generally, students can make appointments for consultation or other general services in their on-campus clinics.

However, there is no particular unit set up for emergencies. Students are advised to seek prompt treatment at the Accident and Emergency Department of the nearest hospitals.

Dr. Ian B. Marshall, director of the University of Hong Kong’s Health Service, claimed that the types of services provided for students were comprehensive and the present resources were also adequate.

“We are always finding ways to improve our services,” said Dr. Marshall.

“Later this year, we will move into a new purpose-built health centre.”

While at the Baptist University, Administrative Officer of the Student Affairs Office Barnadas Ip said, “I think our health service is not sufficient enough as there is only one doctor who takes care of a population of about 4,500.

“We are planning to provide dental service for the students. It is our top priority. When this is settled successfully, we will put more effort on expanding our present medical service.

“Yet, one of our main problems is that we do not have enough space for expansion.

“On the other side, we will try our best to arrange more educational talks on health topics for the students,” said he.

At The Chinese University, Mrs. Pauline Kan, a Health Educational Officer, said, “Our services provided are generally of a high standard and can commensurate with resources available.

Nevertheless, there are always rooms for improvement.”

Mr. Mui Chi Yip, a Chinese University student, said, “The pharmacy section of the clinic needs certain improvement. It takes a long time to wait for getting the medicine.”

Mr. Matthew Wong, a student in the University of Hong Kong, was greatly disappointed by the performance of the health centre.

Said Mr. Wong: “I am not satisfied with the staff’s attitude. They treat me impolitely whenever I want to make an appointment.

“Moreover, I have been assigned to a particular doctor. He is not serious about my illness.

“Once, I had my foot badly hurt, but he did not treat it seriously. The medicine given to me was not effective.”

On the other hand, Miss Liu Lai Fong, a Baptist University student, said, “I am quite satisfied with the present service provided by our health centre. However, it would be better to increase the number of doctors.”

The complaints about the health centres are dealt differently in different universities.

There is no formal group set up to deal with complaints about the health centre in the University of Hong Kong. Complaints needs to be sent to the University Health Services Committee.

Mr. Wong of the University of Hong Kong said, “I really do not know how to complain about the health centre. Nobody has ever informed us about it.”

Dr. Marshall claimed that they have received very few complaints.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Kan of The Chinese University also claimed that they had not received many complaints. Complaints are generally dealt with by the unit heads, service supervisors or the director of the University Health Service. The complaints are dealt either separately or through relevant management groups or committees.

The case in the Baptist University is similar. Said Mr. Ip: “We have received only one complaint within the previous three years.

“We have set a letter box in the clinic for students to put their complaint letters in. The Student Affairs Office would deal with these directly.”

In fact, the quality of the doctors has a direct relationship with the reputation of the health centre.

Every university has its own criteria and is very serious in recruiting doctors.

Said Dr. Marshall: “As a training practice for family medicine, we prefer doctors who have either a higher qualification in family medicine or are working towards one.”

Whereas at the Chinese University, the doctors’ qualification, experience, personal attributes and reference reports are the main considerations.

Mr. Ip of Baptist University said, “We are very serious in choosing doctors for the health centre. We request for detailed information and background of the doctors and nurses for references. Moreover, we keep a close eye on their performances.”

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