As integration plan unfolds some must wait and see what happens next

Dr. Annelys Hernandez, left, checks out Cynthia Louis in Florida International University's Mobile Health Center in Miami on March 3, 2015. FIU's Mobile Clinic is a program within FIU Health. (Peter Andrew Bosch/TNS)

When the Board of Trustees decided to increase the fee that pays for student clubs and activities, they also made a decision for a different fee that could forever change the way students receive their healthcare from the University.

Why only could? Because it’s still too early to tell.

That’s what University administrators on one end of the change said to Student Media.

On June 2, the University’s Health Affairs Committee presented a plan, which the BOT unanimously approved later in the day, that will send money generated from the student health fee in two directions: Student Health Services and FIU Health.

According to a public document from a BOT meeting and interviews with the director of SHS  and Larry Lunsford, the vice president of Student Affairs, the University is executing a plan about ten years in the making that will “integrate” SHS with the FIU HealthCare Network, which manages FIU Health.

Although still in its early stages, the plan is supposed to divide the fee so that a smaller portion of it remains with SHS, and a larger chunk of the money will be sent to the FIU-HCN, according to Oscar Loynaz, director of SHS.

In a presentation to the BOT, former Chief Executive Officer of FIU Health Yolangel Hernandez Suarez noted full integration was expected for July 2015.

More than simply an accounting change of what department gets some student money, the plan also calls for a restructuring of operations in the University’s student health services.

The larger chunk that will go to FIU-HCN pays for clinical operations in SHS, which includes doctors, nurse practitioners, pharmacy staff, medical records and the cashier’s office. All of those operations, along with the people who conduct them, now report to staff in FIU Health, effective July 1.

For students seeking medical services while on campus it is business as usual, for now. But as FIU Health assesses what could change in SHS’ clinical operations, the thousands of students who use on-campus health services will have to wait and see if they receive them from the same different doctor or nurse with which they are comfortable.

“In new model, student health services will refer students to outside primary care practitioner rather than providing that level of care as it currently does,” Loynaz said. “Student health is no longer their main doctor.”

At both the Biscayne Bay and Modesto Maidique campuses clinical operations has a projected total cost of about $4.9 million for 2015-2016. The components of SHS that will stay the same, as in remain within Student Affairs, cost about $3 million.

The FIU Faculty Group Practice, which is also under FIU Health, has some of the same positions that SHS has in its clinical operations but lacks a pharmacy for the time being, according to Loynaz.

SHS will remain in the same buildings at both BBC and MMC and students can still go to the blue and white Healthcare Center building at BBC and the blue and yellow structure that is the University Health Services Complex at MMC for their medical services, receive some prescription medicine at reduced prices and for the health promotion services.

The wellness components, which are now called “Health Promotion/Healthy Living,” includes massages, acupuncture, health training, dietician, HIV testing and counseling, health fairs, sex carnivals, workshops, immunization and insurance compliance for international students among other things.

What the new model will mean for the 6,940 students who were seen in spring 2015 to have FIU Health running their clinical services and when it will take effect, is a matter of playing the waiting game.

“I couldn’t tell when the changes will occur,” said Lunsford, who added that he’s waiting for FIU Health officials to tell him.

Student Media has contacted Eneida Roldan, interim chief executive officer of FIU Health, and Amy Metula, director of quality management for the FIU-HCN, but their comments were not available as of press time.

FIU Health is comprised of staff from the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, the Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work and the College of Arts and Sciences.

The network performs various administrative functions related to medical practice, including billing and collections, contract management with vendors and insurance plans, provider credentialing and administration of practice operations. will have more on this story as Student Media continues to follow the University’s integration plan.

Be the first to comment on "As integration plan unfolds some must wait and see what happens next"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.