Last week’s tragic passing of Andrea Jaime (NHS ’17) from bacterial meningitis garnered the campus community’s attention and reflection. At a time when students and faculty may have been unsure of how to proceed, the information that Student Health Services disseminated in a timely fashion brought comfort to students in this moment of uncertainty.
With an outbreak of a disease that manifests itself suddenly and has already claimed the life of one Georgetown student, students were rightly concerned about the public health implications of this campus tragedy. And although many students often lodge serious, legitimate complaints against Student Health Services, during this time of disquiet, the office acted effectively to ease the anxiety with daily email updates on the case and the relevant services available to students.
These emails, signed by Assistant Vice President for Health Services James Welsh, provided necessary information on meningitis symptoms and prevention. The updates, which included links to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s page about meningitis, as well as phone numbers to reach the Student Health Center and clinician on duty at the health center made students feel safer and more knowledgeable about resources and calmed the campus community at a time when panic could ensue.
By prioritizing awareness, the Student Health Center made it possible for students and faculty to feel comfortable going about their daily routines on campus. Furthermore, by extending the hours of the Student Health Center until 2 a.m. once the university confirmed the presence of bacterial meningitis, the administration also quelled concerns about access to information and services. Even though the health center primarily disseminated little more than information that night, it was comforting to know that the university took students’ peace of mind into consideration.
The stress of the school year, compounded with the sadness of losing a classmate, is a taxing situation for students. The university’s ability to ease this anxiety should be much appreciated.