Establishing a best-in-class health center

We partnered with a small private art college, with approximately 1,100 students. The college wanted to enhance their on-campus offerings since the majority of the student population are residential undergraduates with a smaller group of graduate students. Planned enhancements included new on-campus housing, food service, campus security, and a health center. This was the school’s first time opening a student health center.

Objectives and Scope

Providing health services was a long-time goal of the college because students’ needs were not being met on campus. In addition, the college was finding it more difficult and complex for students to seek primary and urgent care off campus. Therefore, the objective was to open a new Student Health and Wellness Center on campus within 18 months


  • The college was able to identify some needed changes in leadership and at different levels of the organization to move forward.
  • The identified space was not adequate, and the health center operations consultant had to advocate for an acceptable minimum space on campus
  • Key stakeholders needed to understand what the scope of practice would be and how it would be funded over time.
  • The budget allocated for the first-year operating expenses was too low. The consultant advised the client to increase the budget and provided appropriate justifications.
  • The college was not aware of the many health care privacy laws in their state that went beyond the FERPA regulations and needed to be kept informed.
  • There was no formal quality documentation review of mental health charts and storage of patient information was problematic.
Methodologies Applied

The health center operations consultant took the following steps to achieve the client’s goal:

  • Defined the services that would be offered
  • Determined the best skill mix of clinical and non-clinical staff
  • Designed the interior space and recommended equipment to be purchased
  • Attended meetings with the builder, architect and interior designer, and purchasing
  • Assisted with RFPs for electronic health record, credentialing service, pre-labelled and packaged pharmaceuticals (through a third party) and lab contracts
  • Selected onsite lab testing kits, as well as medical, disaster and office supplies
  • Provided guidance with governance documents
  • Assisted with policies and procedures, clinic set up, marketing materials, signage, grand-opening event, new student orientation messaging, and wellness outreach efforts
  • Created “day one” policies and procedures and trained the team and assisted in establishing priorities for medical protocols. It was critical to adhere to all compliance standards at the state and federal level so the new Health and Wellness Center would eligible for AAAHC accreditation
Results Delivered

The Student Health and Wellness Center opened on time and fully-staffed for the fall semester. The students immediately began utilizing the much-needed services. At the end of the first academic year, the college realized a decrease in the number of students dropping out of school for medical reasons. They also noted an increase of the “student leave of absence policy.” This was a positive result as it encouraged students to return to their classes with medical support on campus, rather than drop out of school. All of these translate to the college improving their published retention data.

Patient satisfaction surveys provide ongoing feedback, so they have continuous quality improvement feedback. The data has been favorable. Accreditation review will be conducted within the first 3 years of opening, and the consultant has been in touch with the client to help with this process. In addition, the high level of utilization at the health center had a direct and favorable impact on medical claims under the student health insurance plan, resulting in no rate increase for 3 years.