Thursday, September 10, 2009

Student Center amenities revamped

Marist Health Services got a facelift this summer, and students can now have their physical and mental health needs taken care of in one place.

The expanded and renovated office, taking up both the old Health Services office and the space that was formerly the billiards room, has expanded to include the Counseling Center, and will operate under a new name - the Health and Wellness Center.

"All those people had been scattered throughout campus and now they're all under one roof, which certainly helps in terms of coordination of care for students," said Pat Cordner, acting director of the counseling center and assistant dean for student affairs.

Before renovations, doctors, nurses, nutritionists, clinical social workers, psychologists and counselors were scattered in offices in Donnelly, the Byrne House, and the Student Center.

Two exam rooms have been added to the previous four, as well as a blood draw room and a triage space.

Cordner said the triage space is very large and is staffed with a nurse who will help students with critical issues be attended to quickly. She said it can also be used for urgent counseling or for extra space on busy days.

"Not only is it more exam rooms, but we can get more people in," Cordner said. "Sometimes we had providers ready to see students but there was no place to put them so they were waiting in the waiting area."

Deborah DiCaprio, vice president for student affairs, said with the melding of Health Services and the Counseling Center, a wellness initiative is in the works that will provide outreach and education.

As far as the billiards room is concerned, DiCaprio said a new game room may open when the Hancock Center is finished and there is more space in the student center, but there are no plans set in stone. The pool tables have been spread throughout campus residence areas.

The Cabaret also underwent significant renovations this summer to give it a more "lounge" feel.

DiCaprio said the goal was to provide another option to the library, creating a "warm and friendly" space that is convenient to come to and open for many hours, with a more inviting atmosphere where students can work in small groups without worrying too much about noise.

The space is now fully carpeted, the acoustics have been enhanced, and sliding doors to the commuter lounge are left open, forming one contiguous space.

"We don't want to separate people," DiCaprio said.

However, the doors provide the option of closing off the commuter lounge for events when a more private space is needed.

Other campus improvements completed this summer include a new parking lot near Gartland Commons, additional "smart classrooms," and a paint job in the McCann Center, among other maintenance jobs.

The Health and Wellness Center will be holding tours later this month. Specific dates and times will be announced via campus e-mail and fliers.

Originally appeared 9/10/09 in The Circle.

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