Voting to begin for health, fitness centers at Truax


Jacob Ennis, Managing Editor

The student health clinic is in a trailer and bursting at its seams, and the fitness center is outdated. Students will have the opportunity to correct these problems by voting in a health services and fitness referendum. A yes-or-no question will be on the ballot for next year’s Student Senate president, online from April 26-30.

There are two parts to the referendum. The first part concerns the health clinic, which is currently housed in a trailer east of the Truax campus’ main building. Once the Health Education building is completed, the clinic will be moved into the new building. Currently, an agreement between Group Health Cooperative and Madison College enables the clinic to provide services.

An increased number of students have used the health clinic over the past year. According to data provided by Group Health Cooperative the clinic saw 49 more visits this February than it did a year ago. With the increase, more space and available hours is needed. Marketing has also helped students bocome aware of its existence

“This year we’ve done a ton of promoting,” said Anna Marie Hoffman, Health Educator at Madison College. She gave many classroom presentations to inform students of services offered. There’s also signage up now that lets students know where the clinic is.

The hours of the clinic will increase from 21 hours per week to 40, allowing more availability for students to be seen. A full-time physician will be on staff along with an extra nurse practitioner and two assistants. There will also be a telephone triage line, monitored 24 hours a day.

“If a student has a question, if they’re not feeling well, they’ll have a number they can call,” said Scot Vesterdahl, Fitness/Wellness Center Manager. They’ll be able to get the advice they need without having to go in.

A full lab will be included to allow for many more tests to be able to be performed on site. With the addition of a medical imaging unit, X-rays will be available as well.

This will be a full medical clinic available to the public along with the students. The public won’t be able to access it for free like the students will.

The second part of the referendum includes improvements to the fitness center. Currently, there are very few pieces of cardio equipment. A “yes “vote on the referendum will allow for a redesign of the fitness center to make it easier to use and about double the amount of cardio equipment.

A new multipurpose room will replace the three raquetball courts currently used for just a few hours a week. The new room will have a hardwood floor and be a place where yoga, zumba and other fitness classes can take place. A smaller classroom with a projector and a whiteboard will also be put in so that fitness classes will have a place they can meet before using the multipurpose room, or whatever equipment they might be using. The useable space will almost double.

The free-weights will be moved to the back of the fitness center, and all of the cardio equipment will be at the front, making it less intimidating for someone to come in and work out. That 250-pounds of rock-solid muscle, bench-pressing more weight than anyone should ever have to lift won’t scare away people coming to get a quick workout in anymore.

Two years ago Steve Hauser, the Director of Athletics, hired a consultant to analyze the fee and fitness center. The consultant said that it was outdated and essentially unsafe for the amount of people that use it. This is one of the reasons that a new fitness center is being included in this referendum.

“We’ll have UW quality equipment for a third of the price,” said Adrian Holtzman, Student Body Vice President, about the new fitness center.

Currently, students pay a health clinic and fitness center fee of $1.51 per credit. Of that fee, 51 cents go to fund the health clinic and the remaining dollar goes to found the fitness center. The $1 fitness fee hasn’t increased since 1998 and the fitness center itself is over 25 years old. If the referendum is passed the total fee for both of these will be $2.08, which would still be one of the lowest Health Services and Fitness Center fees in the area. Comparatively, the fee for UW-Madison is $6.76.

“You’ll be getting more bang for your buck,” Holtzman said about the referendum.

The student health clinic is currently funded through that 51-cent fee and retained earnings from the Student Activities Board. The funding is approved until the end of the 2013-2014 school year. The fee increase will take place at the start of the 2014 spring semester with the passing of the referendum. If it doesn’t pass, there is a real possibility that students won’t able to access the new clinic for free as they do now.

“The potential in the future could be that there is no student health clinic,” Vasterdahl said about the possibilty that the referendum doesn’t pass.

Funding from the referendum will guarantee student access to the health clinic for 10 years. There is also a small yearly increase of the fee that will average out to be around five cents per year.

“The goal was to put this in place long-term. So we knew that our students had this access and coverage, which is paramount to everything,” Hauser said. “Student success. That’s what it’s all about.”

Currently, students can use the clinic for such things as cold or flu symptoms, sprains and other types of pain. Also, for any programs that require a physical, the health clinic can do that free of charge. Without health insurance, that service could run around $180-$300. Even if a student has insurance, the copay for a doctor’s visit could be $50 or more, so using the student health clinic one time would more than pay for the fees that are paid to be able to use it.

Students can enroll online to use the health clinic. All that’s needed is a computer and OneCard. The easiest way is to go to and go to the A-Z index. Click on “C” and go down to “Clinic for students.” Once clicked, it will go to another page, there’s a big red button that says “enroll.” After it’s clicked there are 10 questions to answer, and click submit. GHC then sends a group member number back through email, which is used to make appointments.

More information on the referendum will be available at tables in the cafeteria between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. during April 22nd-26th.