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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

SHAC Experiences

Getting sick is never a pleasant experience, and being away from home and your primary care provider while at school only adds to the stress. Even before wearing masks became common practice, I generally never got sick; I remember the last time I got sick before coming to Carleton was June of 2020, thanks to an anti-masker co-worker and a small shared workspace (thankfully, it was not COVID–just a cold). Unfortunately, last Fall Term, I broke my streak, and got sick around week five. I fell into a weird cycle where I’d be sick for about a week, feel better for a day or so, and then feel worse again. I even lost my voice for one of those weeks, and for someone like myself who enjoys talking and participating in class, this was especially challenging. After feeling constantly crummy for about a week and a half, I realized that whatever I had would most likely not go away on its own, and that I needed to get it checked out, especially after consistently testing negative for COVID. 

My first impression of SHAC was not a positive one, if I’m being honest. To begin with, I left many, many voicemails asking if there were any same-day appointments available, as there were never any open when I checked the online website. My calls were not returned. When I finally was able to make my way to the SHAC office, I was told that there were no appointments, but I could have a telehealth appointment. Not as good as seeing a care provider in person, but beggars can’t be choosers. My main grievance, however, was that SHAC wasn’t able to write me an excuse note for my PE class, as it is apparently against school policy. Now, I understand that there is an attendance policy for certain classes for a reason, as it discourages skipping classes, and this particular PE class was not one that I especially looked forward to going to twice a week. But at this point, I had lost my voice entirely, and, while I won’t gross you out with the rest of the details, was very, very visibly sick. Class policy was to not attend class if you were sick, but the absence wouldn’t be excused; I was told that I would have to get a note from my primary care provider. Unfortunately for me, my primary care provider lives in New Jersey, so this wasn’t viable for me. Ultimately, I ended up treating myself with a mixture of theraflu, anti-congestion medicine, cough drops, ibuprofen—you get the picture. I didn’t fully recover from my case of Porch Plague (which I am pretty sure was actually pneumonia) until the beginning of winter break, so needless to say, I was not very impressed with my first encounter with the on-campus clinic.

When I asked them, other students expressed similar sentiments towards SHAC; however, I managed to encounter two other students who actually had positive feedback. One individual said, “I really like the SHAC people, but I don’t like how they don’t have any sort of healthcare transport system that isn’t the unreliable and gross cab service.” Another student detailed their experience with SHAC from this term: “I got injured early in the term. I went to SHAC where I was quickly seen, evaluated and sent to the Northfield hospital. The SHAC staff followed up with me afterward and were helpful in finding an appointment time when I had limited availability. Overall, I was fairly impressed with how SHAC handled the situation and helped me after my accident.” Now, I will admit, when these individuals recounted their positive opinions of SHAC to me, I was dubious, albeit biased from my own negative experience; my experiences, however, are not universal, and I was grateful to the students for sharing their thoughts with me.

My opinion of SHAC has since changed, drastically, as of yesterday (at the time of writing). When I woke up with a severely sore throat, my initial reaction was “yup, I finally have COVID. This is it.” I wasn’t a close contact, but I figured that I could have gotten it from anyone I had encountered over the weekend. Two years into the pandemic being fortunate enough to have never caught COVID, I thought that was a good run and accepted my fate. However, 20 minutes after getting a rapid test, I received an email that read “Your test results today are negative. Have a great day.” After frantically Googling my symptoms, I called SHAC to ask if there were any available openings. My call was sent to voicemail, souring my mood, as I thought back to my experience from last term. Much to my surprise, however, my call was returned within the hour, and I was seen not even 30 minutes later, where I was tested for and confirmed to have strep throat. Who or where I got it from, I remain unsure, but it was a relief to both know what I had and be given the antibiotics at SHAC, saving me a trip to Family Fare. I was even given a bag of cough drops, herbal tea and, much to my amusement, table salt in a little jar for gargling with. After this experience, my opinion of SHAC has majorly improved—while I am still sick with strep (but no longer contagious!), I now feel more confident in their ability to see and treat students. 

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