If you can believe it, people get sick and injured on weekends. It’s actually relatively normal to not feel sick on a weekday where you can miss classes.
Say you’re sick and need some sort of help from the University Health Center on a weekday. You can call them and schedule an appointment for the same day, get the treatment you need and start the road towards recovery.
But if you’re sick on the weekend and call the University Health Center, you’ll get the answering machine. On their website, it says it plain and simple: they are not open on weekends.
Now, it’s normal for many essential services to not be open on weekends. For example, Red Hawk Central, the section of the school that handles financial aid situations, is closed Saturday and Sunday, as is the Center for Writing Excellence. Since most people use this time to relax, this makes sense.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) testing facility at Webster Hall, Sprague Library and the dining halls, however, are open on weekends. These services play a critical role for the residential populace of Montclair State University by ensuring that people can get tested, get food and get homework done. If a dining hall were to close, people would be upset (depending on which one — let’s be honest) and call the university out for this.
But when it comes to the University Health Center, the only real uproar is the fact that the facility has 2.3 stars on Google Reviews, with the most recent advising people to go to an urgent clinic if they have something more than a cold.
If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that healthcare doesn’t exactly exist in a tidy 9-to-5 schedule on weekdays.
By having the University Health Center available to them on weekends, students will be able to get proper resources and information on when to quarantine and isolate.
While some may say it’s not the university’s responsibility to have a health center open 24/7 and that students can go to urgent care clinics, there is a serious issue with that if you’re a residential student.
Not every residential student has a car, and not everyone can access public transit on the weekends, specifically the trains, which are notoriously inaccessible then. There are buses, but not every student is able to make the walk to the Red Hawk parking deck. And depending on what a student is going through, it might not be an ethical option to do so.
This would inevitably put a serious price tag on a basic human right, leaving students to have to use rideshare apps or depend on other students to drive them to a close facility. Walking isn’t really an option; the closest urgent care to the school is about 2.5 miles away. It might be an even longer trek depending on your insurance.
Having the University Heath Center be closed on weekends puts students with different insurance plans in a bit of an awkward situation. Having your weekend derailed due to a bout of sickness or an injury is one thing, but having to go through unnecessary hoops is an entirely more painful experience to someone who might be dealing with things like insurance and medical bills by themselves for the first time.
This also would mean students who are short on cash would have no real way to pay off any bills accrued in urgent care, unlike at the University Health Center, which can put any unnecessary costs onto your NEST account.
The University Health Center does have crucial importance to the lives and well-being of the students it serves. It shouldn’t be limited to something you can only access during the week, where one might not have the time to even get to an appointment.