At Penn State University Park Undergraduate Association’s meeting Wednesday night, Micah Griffin, senior director of University Health Services, gave a presentation regarding the culture of campus well-being at University Park and helped introduce the new UPUA Wellness Fund.
The fund, which was passed unanimously by UPUA, is “meant to alleviate financial strain — related to medical costs — that a student may face as they pursue their education,” Griffin said.
UPUA will contribute $10,000 to UHS, and all students at University Park are eligible for the Wellness Fund, which can be used to cover all billable services except pharmacy charges, ambulance charges, lab work sent to Quest Diagnostics and no-show fees.
“The idea behind this health equity fund is to improve access,” Griffin said. “If you don’t have insurance, are under-insured or have some insurance that doesn’t cover everything you might receive at UHS, the purpose of this fund is to support those students so that way access is not a barrier.”
Najee Rodriguez, vice president of UPUA, played a leading role in proposing the UPUA Wellness Fund at the association’s second in-person meeting this fall.
“Students who don’t have insurance or who are severely under-insured are suffering, and they’re not going to UHS or any doctor for that matter,” Rodriguez (junior-international politics, national security and history) said. “It’s an affront to their health, and we can clearly do something about this.”
Many other members of the UPUA, including at-large Rep. Hope Steger, discussed their support of the bill before it was passed during the meeting.
“Students cannot be students without feeling healthy,” Steger (sophomore-political science) said. “You’re not going to be doing your best academically or be as involved if you aren’t feeling your best. This is super important — it can get so many students the help that they need.”
In Griffin’s presentation to UPUA, he emphasized the importance of student involvement with UHS.
“You all are really the future, you are the voice, you control everything we do,” Griffin said. “You all are central to what we do here at Penn State. We’re here to serve you.”
Griffin also explained one of UHS's purposes is to expose students to health care and develop “health-seeking behaviors” that will promote health and well-being beyond the academic careers of students and into their adult lives.
“It’s our goal and our responsibility to support you as students,” Griffin said. “Not just when you’re sick, not just when you have an issue, it’s our responsibility to support you from a preventative standpoint, from a reactionary standpoint but also to support you through your care.”
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