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College transitions to Kaiser health center

After years of campaigning for more comprehensive health care, students now have access to an on-campus Kaiser health facility.

Kim Baranek, Director of Wellness and Community Outreach, worked with students at orientation to answer any questions and address concerns about the switch to Kaiser and the new health center.

“Part of my job is to hear what’s working and what’s not,” said Baranek.

Baranek works as a liaison between Kaiser Permanente and Mills, advocating on behalf of students. Baranek said the Division of Student Life has had good communication with clinic staff, and most of the issues were resolved quickly.

“So far there hasn’t been anything to come up that we haven’t been able to deal with,” said Baranek.

Students who do not enroll in the Kaiser health plan may also use the on-campus center.

The center opened Aug. 17.

“There are students who have already used the services who don’ t have Kaiser insurance,” said Baranek.

She said it is important for students who plan to waive the insurance to do so by going to the Kaiser StudentNet via the Mills website under “Student Services” and then “Health and Counseling.” Students must enroll or waive by Aug. 31. If Kaiser health insurance is not waived, the student will be automatically enrolled in the program.

According to Baranek, there will be one doctor and one vocational nurse on site during clinic hours. There will also be a website with doctor biographies, where students can search for a doctor that is right for them, and if enrolled in Kaiser insurance, choose a primary physician. Baranek also said walk-ins are accepted, but appointments are preferred.

Baranek is a new full time employee at Mills, and is happy to address student concerns about healthcare.

“My phone has been ringing off the hook about insurance stuff,” said Baranek.

She said she appreciated that students could get convenient care.

“It’s a good resource for students to have something right here,” said Baranek.

Senior Sarah Blake uses Kaiser insurance and is glad to have a health center on campus, but she also has concerns about already existing services at Mills.

“I’m a little concerned that DSL might attempt to minimize the Women’s Health Resource Center, which I consider an important school resource even with the new health center,” said Blake. “It’s student-run, which not only makes it a welcoming place, but also allows for Millsians to have the experience of being a peer educator without going through outside sources.”

Melanie Weston, a sophomore, was not satisfied with the UC Berkeley Tang Center where Mills students received health care previously, and said a health center on campus will be more convenient.

“The Tang Center could be useful at some things, like urgent care or vaccinations, but most times it was just a plain hassle,” said Weston.

Weston came from out of state to go to Mills, and it was easier for her to use the Tang Center than find a new doctor on her own.

“It’ll be extremely useful having a facility on campus,” said Weston. “No timing the shuttle correctly, no worrying if you’ll be back from Berkeley in time for your class.”

Weston said she is looking forward to using the new health center, “but only time will tell if the new facility will live up to the campus’ expectations.”