New student health center brings a more holistic approach to care

UWM’s student health center has moved to a new location in the Northwest Quadrant, but that move brought with it more than clean and modern accommodations and a new name.

Formerly named the Norris Health Center, the new Student Health and Wellness Center is taking a more holistic approach to students’ health.

“We were looking for a name that really conveyed a more holistic approach to wellness,” said Carrie Fleider, UWM university counseling services director. “We really wanted to convey to the campus community that we’re here to hold and support the whole student.”

The campus community got its first chance to see the new health center at a grand opening in early September. Invited in by the scent of lavender, UWM students and staff explored the Northwest Quad D building’s newly renovated seventh and eighth floors, which are accented with pale wood and periwinkle walls and bathed in natural light.

Formerly the Norris Health Center, the new Student Health and Wellness Center is now located on the newly renovated seventh and eighth floors of Northwest Quad Building D. (UWM Photo/Elora Hennessey)

The Student Health and Wellness houses UWM’s counseling, medical, health promotion and advocacy services. Students can access clinical services on the seventh floor, and after ascending the grand staircase in the center of the waiting area (or riding the elevator), they can find counseling services and peer mentors on the eighth floor.

UWM counseling services, along with the other health services, wants to take a more rounded approach to help students, Fleider said.

A mindful thinking space is one of the ways counseling services is broadening its support options. The room includes a virtual reality machine that will help students go to a calming environment, which helps them relax and meditate. And more programs such as meditation are now offered, senior counselor Laura Pagel said.

Designed for comfort

There are also conference rooms for peer support and group therapy sessions to meet. Everything from the number of plants and the calming blue accent walls is designed to create a space students feel comfortable entering.

“We really want students to feel connected and like they can ask questions,” Pagel said.

Because all the services reside in the same space, physicians and support staff can connect and coordinate together to provide better care for students. Instead of having to cross campus or communicating via email, staff can walk up or down the large staircase to talk to their colleagues.

The higher potential for collaboration will help staff better treat students and meet their needs, according to Kari Brickler, the clinic manager.

“We want students to know we are here for them,” Brickler said. “We appreciate them and want each of them to have a positive experience when using any of the services offered. We want them to feel safe and welcome at all times.”

Students do not need insurance to access most services offered by the Student Health and Wellness Center. Those are covered by student fees.

‘Good for both students and staff’

Nurse Karen Krueger, who has worked at the health center for three years, is excited for the change.

“The new facilities are welcoming and modern — it’s more collaborative,” Krueger said. “I think this will be good for both students and staff.”

The new Student Health and Wellness Center and its expanded service offerings reaffirm the university’s commitment to increase access to mental wellness programs as well as physical health care.

Emily Gunn, a second-year student who stopped in at the grand opening between classes, liked what she saw.

“The new space is very welcoming and easy to use,” Gunn said, cradling a succulent she won at one of the information stations. “This is definitely an upgrade.”

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