For better health
Students rely on Health Center for basic services, but turn to community dentists

Mustard-yellow, pea-green and chocolate-brown chairs are the first to greet students when they enter the doors.

They make their way up to the counter to fill out the white card. Their wait to see a doctor at the TCU Health Center has begun.

Meanwhile, a group of runny-nosed, fever-ridden students are entertained by facts on the television screen about how brown-shelled eggs have the same nutritional content as white-shelled eggs.

The scene is not one out of "That 70's Show" but a scene out of the TCU Health Center.

Some students said you cannot get the full scope of the Health Center until you trek beyond the waiting room and meet the helpful staff and doctors.

Manoela Munhoz, a freshman pre-major from São Paulo, Brazil, said she takes advantage of the Health Center services.

"It's easier for me because I'm not familiar with insurance things, and it's right on campus," Munhoz said. "Insurance from Brazil is not valid here, so I have coverage through the school."

What TCU students know as the Health Center opened in 1963 as a 42-bed hospital. As other hospitals opened in the area in the '80s, employees said the Health Center began gearing its services to the changing needs of college students.

Three full-time medical doctors, one physician's assistant and a nurse practitioner are on staff. There is no charge for outpatient visits to eligible students during the school year. Undergraduate students taking six or more semester hours and full-time graduate students qualify regardless of insurance coverage.

Undergraduate students carrying nine or more semester hours are required to have insurance.

TCU offers health insurance for $292 per semester, which includes prescription coverage at 90 percent.

Each day, Health Center officials see between 120 and 150 students. Services include allergy injections, vaccinations and mental health services. Gynecology services, AIDS testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases are also offered.

There is an in-house pharmacy at the Health Center, and students can charge prescriptions from any doctor to their student account.

Marilyn Hallam, assistant to the director of health services, said student confidentiality is taken very seriously.

"If a parent calls and asks about services, the Health Center cannot release them," Hallam said.

Students must go in person to get lab results, and AIDS testing is done under an alias number.

While most outpatient services and minor emergencies can be treated at the Health Center, routine dental care is not available on campus, nor covered under TCU insurance.

Several dentists in the area serve the TCU community, and some even offer student discounts.

Mitch Conditt, a local Fort Worth dentist and founder of the Southwest Center for Aesthetic and Restorative Dentistry, said there are often problems with trying to keep students going to dentists during college, and the problem is two-fold.

"First, college students no longer have a reminder from their dentist for their six-month check-up," Conditt said. "Secondly, as long as there is no pain, they feel that everything is all right."

Conditt said college students really need to keep check ups with their regular dentists when they go home on break or establish a relationship with a dentist at college.

"The toughest part is locating a dentist and making that initial call," Conditt said. "But afterward, we can help them with the responsibility."

Conditt said he does offer a student discount and during basketball season he will offer a "full mouth whitening" for $200 (normally $375) after every Frog basketball win.

Mark McAdams, whose practice is located on Oakmont Boulevard, stresses the importance of students continuing routine dental care and has seen the results of neglect first hand.

"A nurse who works for me graduated from TCU and had about 12 cavities when she went to the dentist after college," McAdams said. "And that scenario is not uncommon."

McAdams said he offers a standard 20 percent discount for TCU students.

"When I was in college, I didn't have the money," he said. "And if we can help people get to the dentist by making it a little cheaper, that's just our goal."

Beth Andrews, a junior art history major, said she would like to have a dentist near TCU.

"I would definitely take advantage of discounted dental services in the area," Andrews said. "Especially for emergencies."

Hallam said the Health Center does not offer dental services because so many dentists in the area are willing to provide care for students.

But even without dental services, the Health Center does provide students with basic health care - green chairs and all.


Natascha Terc


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