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MSU Moorhead to close clinic, pharmacy and medical lab

MOORHEAD, Minn. — Minnesota State University Moorhead will close its clinic, pharmacy and medical lab next month after leaders determined they would be too expensive to keep open.

The school plans to stop offering those services on July 1 at the Hendrix Clinic and Counseling Center, Dean of Students Kara Gravley-Stack said. Under a new name of MSUM Counseling Services, the building will shift its focus to providing emotional and mental health services, according to an email sent out May 10.

“We’re making this change to meet the increasing need for emotional/mental health services for our students, and to be good stewards of university financial resources,” according to an email from Brenda Amenson-Hill, vice president of enrollment management and student affairs. “Be assured we are dedicated to helping affected staff and students as this transition moves forward.”

One administrative assistant and five medical staff positions will be eliminated, Gravley-Stack said.

"At this point, MSUM Counseling Services will remain in the Hendrix building after June 30," she said. "We are looking for different campus spaces to re-locate them, but nothing has been identified at this time."

Medical services were located in the basement of Dahl Hall, but mold was discovered there in January 2002. Staff moved in March 2003 into the 6,400-square-foot Hendrix Center.

Several years later, the Hendrix building became a home to mental health services.

Medical services were paid for through student fees and health insurance plans, while counseling was funded through student fees only, she said. MSUM has seen a drop in its student body, which has contributed to a decreased revenue source for the center, Gravley-Stack said.

The university went from roughly 7,500 students in 2008 to about 5,860 students last fall, according to news archives.

There are a number of online students who do not have to pay student health fees, and insurance companies also are reimbursing at a lower rate for some of MSUM’s services, she added.

The university explored various options, including asking a local medical entity to provide services at the facility, she said. But MSUM could not commit to the financial cost associated with the proposal, she said.

“Exploring all of our options, we were kind of left with recognizing the current model financially was not sustainable,” she said.

A number of health care providers are available off campus, Gravley-Stack said. MSUM will have a case manager to connect students to those medical services, offer provide transportation assistance to local clinics and host pop-up clinics for special medical events, including providing flu shots, according to Amenson-Hill’s email.

What other schools do

The Concordia College Health Center closed last summer and transitioned to the Health Services Office, spokeswoman Amy Kelly said.

“When we made the change last year, the intent was to create an emphasis on holistic health-related decision-making, broadening our focus on meeting students’ mental health needs and helping students connect with abundant health care services available in the Fargo-Moorhead area,” she said.

Concordia offers counseling services on campus for free, but the Health Services Office can help students find mental health providers off campus, the university said.

It’s important students learn how to navigate the health care system, Concordia Health Services Coordinator Katie Nystuen wrote in an email, adding her job is to help guide students in making choices for their health.

“For many students, this may be the first time they’ve had to make choices regarding their health care,” she said. “We have heard from many parents that they feel better knowing there is a person who can help their student problem-solve health care needs and find a provider, as they may not be familiar with the Fargo-Moorhead community.”

North Dakota State University and the University of North Dakota both have mental health and counseling services on campus, as well as a pharmacy, clinic and medical lab. Like MSUM, the two North Dakota schools fund counseling services through student fees, while medical services are paid for through student fees and revenue from health insurance plans.

There are no plans to eliminate or reduce services at UND and NDSU, leaders said as they noted the services are well-used.

UND's clinic is about 100 years old, and psychiatric services have been available since 2012.

NDSU’s clinic dates back to the 1930s, and NDSU has had counseling services since the 1940s, said Laura Oster-Aaland, NDSU vice provost for student affairs and enrollment management.