AVC students to pay $19 health fee starting in fall

Antelope Valley College students will be asked to pay a fee each term to fund a campus Student Health Center.

College trustees on Monday voted unanimously to impose the fee following a presentation by Matthew Ellison, Associated Student Organization senator of health sciences.

Heading into Monday’s meeting, AVC was among 16 of the state’s 122 community colleges without a Student Health Center. It is also one of the largest colleges without a health center.

In recent years, the only on-campus access to health care has been through the Care-A-Van, a recreational vehicle outfitted as a mobile medical clinic and operated by Partners in Care Foundation and Visiting Nurse Community Services. Last year, the college district spent $68,000 for a once weekly visit by the Care-A-Van.

Dr. Jill Zimmerman, dean of student development and services, told trustees that the 4.5 hours of service provided by the Care-A-Van is woefully inadequate for the campus.

With increased pressure on the college to cut expenses due to state budget cuts and with students in need of greater access to health care, the college’s student leaders of the Associated Student Organization came forward with a plan to impose a health fee to fund health services.

State law allows colleges to charge a student up to $19 per semester to provide campus health care. The fee would be $16 for intersession and summer terms.

Trustee Steve Buffalo noted the fee would eliminate the district expense of providing health services to students.

Ellison told trustees that the fee would generate an estimated $532,000 annually, enough to fund a full-time nurse practitioner, a full-time secretary/clerk, a part-time physician, and a part-time psychologist. In addition, there would be additional money to pay for equipment, supplies and operating the center.

Ellison suggested that with the opening of the Health and Science Building in fall 2012, there would be space available on the ground floor of the Applied Arts Building --- currently used for a nursing lab – that could be utilized for the Student Health Center.

Board President Betty Wienke expressed concern about imposing an additional fee on students without providing an exemption for those who already have health insurance. But Ellison noted that state law doesn’t provide for such an exemption. He said students would appreciate the convenience of on-campus care and would not need to make any co-pays for care.