University of Washington Tacoma’s partnership with CHI Franciscan went into effect on July 5. This new model for how students access healthcare services led to a closure of the on campus clinic on Market Street.
The partnership allows students, through their quarterly payment of the Services and Activities Fee, to receive care at six Franciscan Prompt Care clinics throughout the Puget Sound region: Bonney Lake, Burien, Gig Harbor, Lakewood, Puyallup and Tacoma. The clinic location in Tacoma, which is located on South J Street across from St. Joseph Medical Center, is the newly designated clinic for students where they will receive priority care.
Students also have the option to use Franciscan Virtual Urgent Care. This 24/7 online urgent care allows patients to speak with a medical professional through an online video chat or over the phone to receive care for minor illnesses (such as flu, cold and allergies). This service previously cost students $35 each time, but is now included with the student health care services.
Kathleen Farrell, the Associate Vice Chancellor in the Division of of Student and Enrollment Services, is responsible for Student Health Services and believes the change is for the better.
“Most UWT students do not live on-campus and making a special trip to use on-campus services isn’t convenient,” Farrell said. The change allows students, the majority of whom “live more than 9 miles from campus,” to access health care conveniently.
According to Farrell, UWT students were notified of the proposed change and feedback opportunities through multiple emails in January. These opportunities included “three forums for students to learn about and share feedback about the change.”
Farrell and the former Dean of Student Success also attended a meeting of ASUWT.
A survey to understand students’ opinion on the change was held. 58 percent of the 187 students who participated voted in favor of the change, according to Farrell. One concern students had was the loss of relationships they had developed with the campus clinic staff. Two providers dedicated to UWT students will be at the Student Health Service clinic near St. Joseph.
“The opportunity to develop a provider relationship is still there,” Farrell said.
Student Health Services seeks to increase the number of students receiving health care through the school, especially with the assistance of virtual healthcare.
According to Student Health Services, the Franciscan clinics are open 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Student Health Services says this represents an 86 percent increase in available hours to students each week compared to the old model.
UWT’s new partnership with CHI Franciscan provides expanded availability and usability to how, when and where students receive health care.