The Michigan Daily: What do you think University Health Services can improve on?
Bob Winfield: We have three things we try to do. One is direct patient care and I think we can do better at making the experience of coming to the health center easier. I think we can improve our access and improve our wait in the waiting room and improve the efficiency of the service. I think there’s always more to do in terms of improving quality. As long as I’ve been in medicine, I’ve seen increasing focus in improving quality and safety and we’re a part of that. It’s not easy to change things that are just part of the system, but we’re working on that. The third area that’s important is the issue of campus preparation for things like pandemic flu or avian flu or being prepared for other major illnesses or outbreaks and we’re working on that continuously. I think we’re one of the universities that’s ahead of the curve.
TMD: Right now, what do you do to handle an outbreak?
BW: Outbreaks are handled according to a variety of variables. One is how contagious is it? How lethal is it? You have to adjust your response to exactly what is going on. We had a case of meningitis that we knew what not terribly contagious, we had to treat the people that were close contacts and hope there were no secondary cases. December 21, we are having a practice drill to set up an emergency hospital that would be used for overflow of patients if the capacity of the local hospitals was succeeded. That will be at Palmer Commons and it could accommodate 250 beds and the health service and the health system are working on that.
TMD: How closely do you work with the University hospitals?
BW: We have a great partnership. Most of our patients who are sick get admitted to the medical center or go to the emergency room if it exceeds our ability. We work closely together in the areas of psychiatry, work closely together in the issue of infectious diseases. I meet at least once a month with an infectious disease specialist and if I have a problem, I’m immediately on the phone with these folks. But we’re a separate unit. I report to the Dean of Students and the Division of Student Affairs. The health system reports to Dr. Kelch, who is the executive vice president of medical affairs.
TMD: How do you get your funding?
BW: Our funding comes from two main sources. Two-thirds of our money comes from student fees and one-third comes from our fee for service activities, which includes M-Care patients and other faculty and staff that come to us and also our pharmacy revenues and a few other fee-for-service things. We’ve done some studies to be sure that work we do for faculty and staff actually brings in enough money to subsidize the cost of the health service so it’s slightly reducing the student fee expense by bringing in enough money to pay for some of our operations.
TMD: Are all the doctors at UHS fully licensed and fully certified?
BW: All the primary care physicians are board certified either in internal medicine or family medicine and the nurse practitioners and PAs are certified and licensed. A person has to have one year of internship or residency after medical school to become licensed and they have to pass an exam. We require more than that. We require that you have additional training so you can pass specialty board certification.
TMD: Do you think there’s a perception that UHS doctors aren’t as good as normal doctors?
BW: We did a study in 2000 on that and we asked the question about