The USC Engemann Student Health Center, which stands more than double the size of the old center, opened Jan. 4 to accommodate the needs of the growing USC student population.
Lawrence Neinstein, executive director of the Engemann Health Center, said the need for a bigger health center has become evident over the past few years.
“When I moved over from Children’s Hospital in 1995, we saw 30,000 visits a year [at the old student health center]. We are now at 90,000. We did 500 immunizations and we are at close to 20,000 [this year],” Neinstein said. “This has become a residential campus with far more health needs of students on campus.”
Administrators said the center’s new features make it more productive. All of the programs that the student health center offers are centralized, with the counseling office moved to the health center. There is also a state-of-the-art call center, which responds to students’ calls more efficiently, as well as three times the number of exam rooms. Additionally, the center also features a student educational resource room.
Neinstein said the health center also has a 24-hour nurse hotline that covers everything from mental health calls to simple scrapes. The center also has a pharmacy on its lower level.
“First, we will be getting the building up and running and make sure students are served with our current services,” Neinstein said. “The call center should really help students calling in for information about many issues including insurance, refills and appointments.”
The plans for the new health center began nearly two decades ago, as the university gathered resources. The university broke ground in 2011 after a $15 million donation from Roger and Michele Dedeaux Engemann. Michele Engemann is a ‘68 School of Dramatic Arts alumna and daughter of baseball coach Rod Dedeaux.
The health center moved from its previous location on 34th Street to 1031 W. 34th St., next to Fluor Tower, because of its larger size.
“We started planning in 1996 and have gone through multiple plans and sites. This ended up as the best location to include all of the various programs,” Neinstein said. “We are thankful for the large donation of our donors, whom the building is named after, and support of [Vice President of Student Affairs] Michael Jackson and senior administration to make this happen for students.”
Many students said they are happy with the new health center because they felt certain aspects of the old health center was inadequate for their needs.
“The only thing that needed improvement was wait time. Even when I made an appointment, it took forever for me to see a doctor,” said Candice Coll, a freshman majoring in psychology.
Melissa Bonner, a freshman majoring in neuroscience, said she has already noticed improvments.
“It was much easier to check in and see my doctor,” Bonner said. “It’s more spacious and it will allow for more patients to come and its much more aesthetically pleasing.”
The new center is 105,000 square feet and six stories tall, while the old one was two stories tall, built in 1951 and required some services to be housed elsewhere because of a lack of space.
“If you combine all our prior locations, the students health space is over double the square footage and more in line with national benchmarks,” Neinstein said. “From the health centers I have visited across the country, this is one of the best facilities.”
The old location of the student health center will be used to house the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, set to open in spring 2014.
USC donors and faculty have high hopes that the new health center will increase productivity for the growing USC University Park Campus.
“[The new health center will provide] better access, better better flow, better integration of services between disciplines and better communication between our staff and students,” Neinstein said.