At Alert Level 2, Student Health has been operating under a modified system, relying on “telehealth,” or phone-call appointments to supplement in-person ones.
The telehealth appointments last the same length of time as an in-person appointment, and cost the same. To receive an appointment, students must call reception to book a time. Sophia has done several telehealth appointments and she said “I do think it’s unfortunate that they charge the same $20 and if you miss the call, which is always from an unknown number, you still have to pay the $20.”
“I’ve done that 3 times, and I think it’s bullshit,” she said.
A spokesperson from Student Health Services has noted that although some services have seen increased demand over Alert Level Two, the volume of students being seen by Student Health Services remains about the same. Increased demand is being met “as best we can,” said the spokesperson.
In-person appointments are still available. They can be arranged after a phone call and a quick Covid-screening questionnaire. If someone has Covid-19 symptoms they may still be able to be seen in person, but the Ministry of Health Level 2 guidelines ask that telehealth appointments be used whenever possible.
The current system at Student Health Services is therefore in-line with current national guidelines for primary healthcare providers.
“All of the doctors I spoke to were wonderful over the phone,” Sophia said. She said that she had only had in-person appointments for “necessity, like medication changes, weight measurements, blood pressure, or iron level appointments”.
The process is “really convenient for recurring prescriptions or if it’s an issue you can talk about over the phone but I think they should change the pricing,” said Sophia. “I think it’s great for prescription refills but the price should be severely decreased.”
If and when we move back to Alert Level 1, the Student Health Services spokesperson said that current systems at Student Health may change. However, they also said that “as the technology has improved, telehealth is likely to become a standard option where care can be provided safely and appropriately”.
Critic likes to imagine they can hear a collective cheer from the NZSIS headquarters; it seems their live-action, unscripted medical drama webisode series seems set to continue for the foreseeable future.