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Uconn Health Center: Quality, care, and proximity

By Kathleen McWilliams
On February 10, 2014

A Storrs Center branch of the UConn Health Center opened in December of last year and the facility is already seeing a steady flow of patients.
"In the one month we have been open, we have seen about 35 patients every day and that's with the snow we've had recently and the fact that for the majority of that month students and faculty were not on campus," Director of Strategy and Planning, Jim Thibeault, said.
The health center, a local branch of the UConn branded health service, features everything from a family practice to a public blood draw station to cardiology to plastic surgery. Urgent Care will be opening in the next few weeks, according to Executive Director of the Mansfield Downtown Partnership, Cynthia Van Zelm. With state of the art medical tools, such as digital radiology, they aim to serve locals, including students, staff and faculty as well as citizens in Mansfield.
Prior to the health center's opening, the nearest hospitals were in Manchester and Windham, 16 and eight miles away, respectively, and the Mansfield area has only four private practices. Thibeault said the opening of the health center eases the burden of getting to a hospital or trying to book an appointment at a private practice that may or may not have space.
"It's convenient because it's close to Storrs and it's right downtown," Thibeault said.
Additionally, the Nash-Zimmer Transportation hub located behind the Health Center will open in a few months and will bring patients to a stop right outside the health center.
Thibeault also stressed the proximity to campus posed a great benefit to faculty and staff who did not receive medical services on campus.
"We are now providing services to employees," Thibeault said. "They can make an appointment at work, or just stop in."
For students, who all have health insurance, the health center is often a cheaper alternative to going to the Emergency Room, which can often cost hundreds of dollars, or taking an ambulance for a non-life threatening medical issue, according to Thibeault.
Unlike most hospitals and practices, however, the doctors that staff the health center are not only doctors, but educators who teach UConn's medical students.
"We're looking at people who have an academic mission. They are looking toward new research and education," Thibeault said. "You're getting people who are credentialed by the university and it makes a big difference."
The full array of occupational medicine, surgeons and doctors has been well received by the Storrs-Mansfield community, according to Van Zelm.
"People were glad to have them serving our community. We're happy to have a variety of businesses in downtown, because they help each other," Van Zelm said.
Thibeault added while their business is growing, the feedback from patients has been positive.
"Just the fact that people are finding us [without doing any marketing] is a good sign," Thibeault said. "We don't turn anyone away."
Urgent Care will open in the next few weeks and the Health Center will have its grand opening in the spring, once the town green and surrounding projects near completion. As the center prepares to officially open all of its offices, Thibeault affirms that just because it is the "UConn" Health Center, it doesn't just belong to students, staff and faculty at Storrs.
"What I really want people to know is that it is not just for UConn. UConn is our brand," Thibeault said.

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