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River Falls Clinic joins forces with hospital, student health services

April 16, 2009

The River Falls Clinic offers a wide variety of health care services and specialist care to UWRF students and the River Falls Community.

“We cover everything from pregnant moms to geriatric and have about 80,000 visits per year,” Samantha Bluhm, marketing director for the Clinic, said.

The Clinic is a feeder to the River Falls Hospital, Bluhm said.  It is a first stop for healthcare and is focused on long term wellness.  She said the clinic attempts to build relationships with patients through visits and phone conversation to improve overall wellness.

The clinic works in partnership with the River Falls Hospital and UWRF student health services.  Student health services covers the cost of basic treatment or hospital visits for STD tests and throat cultures, Alice Reilly-Myklebust, director of student health services said.  Student Health Services also offers a free taxi service to and from the River Falls Clinic, she said.

Reilly-Myklebust said UWRF student health services does not have an on-site clinic because it would not be possible to provide the full range of healthcare options and hours of availability that the River Falls Clinic offers.

Specialists play an important role in the River Falls Medical Clinic, Bluhm said.  She said physicians work with families and generations of families to provide better care.

“These docs see patients for everything from immunizations, physicals, health and wellness checks, diabetes and chronic disease,” Bluhm said in an e-mail.

Bluhm said UWRF patients are not the majority but that they are terrific patients.  She said student visits help the clinic be more connected to the University.
Bluhm commented on the responsibilities of the patient.

“Humans innately have the ability to know when something is wrong with their bodies.  The earlier they seek care the better.”

Bluhm addressed the issue of River Falls patients without health insurance to pay for care.

“The River Falls clinic offers a free clinic where patients without health insurance can receive absolutely the same care.”

The percentage of uninsured Americans has remained relatively the same since 1987.  In 1987, about 13 percent were uninsured and in 2007 15.3 percent were uninsured.  The Percentage of uninsured Americans dropped from 2006 to 2007. In 2006, it was 15.8 and 2007, 15.3 percent.

Children in a poverty rate higher among the uninsured with a rate of 17 percent compared to 11 percent for those above the poverty line. This data was collected from the U.S. Census Bureau Web site.

Reilly-Myklebust said she is advocating for required health insurance as part of tuition fees.  Domestic students who already have a plan could have its cost deducted from their tuition.  Those without would use the UWRF health insurance policy, she said.

“Many schools are starting to require health insurance as a term of enrollment.” Reilly-Myklebust said.

International students are currently required to use the UWRF insurance policy in order to attend the University.

“I told them I had insurance already when I came to the United States and they told me I had to use the UWRF health insurance policy,” Woojin Lee, an international student, said.

Lee said he was told by the UWRF international office advisor that he must cancel his policy, which was cheaper, and use the more expensive UWRF one or a hold would be placed on his account for registration for classes. He said he was billed during the summer between terms even though he attempted to cancel the policy because he was away in Korea.

The UWRF health insurance policy for domestic students costs $1,142 annually and $295 quarterly. For International students, it costs $800 annually and $210 quarterly. Prices were taken from the Columbian Life Insurance Company premiums listed on their Web site.

“Health care has some major problems and the ones who suffer,” Reilly-Myklebust said, “are the ones who don’t have resources to afford health care.”