BY DAN PAGE
After years of quietly building a national reputation for quality comprehensive health care, the clinicians and staff of UCLA's Student Health Services finally feel as good about their clinic as they do about the quality of their work.
The new Arthur Ashe Student Health & Wellness Center opened Dec. 22 in the former Plaza Building in the center of campus. The move from dreary, windowless quarters in the basement of the Center for the Health Sciences has improved the accessibility and efficiency of services to students and upgraded the work environment of the center's 100 doctors, nurse practitioners and staff.
"We have moved to the crossroads of the campus, a location that's highly accessible for a greater majority of the students," said Ed Wiesmeier, assistant vice chancellor for student development and health, and director of the Ashe center. "The students are enjoying a much more modern facility that was planned specifically to provide the kinds of services that they need."
Michele Pearson, director of ancillary services, said that the center's staff is enthusiastic about the move. "I'm looking forward to being in the center of campus. I love students. I love my job. I love what we do, making people well. I'm really looking forward to being around students more," she said.
Students who visit the four-story outpatient clinic can choose from among 30 board-certified physicians and licensed nurse practitioners. The center features 59 examining rooms plus labs, a pharmacy and a radiology unit. Physical-therapy services will be added later this year. Most services offered by the not-for-profit center are covered through student fees. Students most commonly seek care for sports-related injuries and upper respiratory infections, and advice on healthy lifestyles, Pearson said.
"Education is a really important component of everything we do," she said. "It's not just a Band-Aid clinic. We take a holistic approach to the practice of medicine. We look at the whole person, not just the medical condition."
Some 350 to 500 students stop by the center each day during the academic year, and that total is expected to increase 20% in the new, more visible location. "In four years we will have seen 80% of the student population," Pearson noted.
The new center was named for Arthur Ashe, a UCLA alumnus who is remembered for his brilliant tennis career, his generous support of numerous charitable and social causes and, finally, his brave battle against AIDS.
"The campus had been looking for a way to honor Arthur Ashe for some time," Pearson said. "We felt that naming a sports facility after him limited the perception of the man to that of a sports figure. He actually had considerable impact through any number of areas of his life."
Thomas Browne, a fifth-year senior majoring in the classics, was waiting for a friend last week in the new facility. "It's nice. It was difficult to even get directions to the old location," he said.
Browne also was impressed with the project's turnaround time. "It's pretty amazing how quickly they could come in here and do it," he said.