I believe I speak for most people when I say going to the doctor isn’t exactly… thrilling. Never did I expect that I would have so many hiccups with my health once I got to college and that I would be forced to deal with the inevitable “grown up” stuff so soon (e.g. appointments, health insurance, medication). Thankfully, the staff of Amherst College Health Services has made my almost-monthly visits far less intimidating. Although nobody wants to end up in Keefe Health Center (who likes feeling sick?), common complaints about the health center’s long wait times or limited hours should not overshadow the exceptionally caring and diligent people who work to keep Amherst College students healthy.
Being away from home often means having to undergo certain things on your own for the first time. Having grown up with a parent or relative to accompany me during doctor’s visits, I appreciate the comfort of having someone at my side during such times now more than ever. Yet, with every person I interact with in the health center during my visits, I never have to feel alone. Whenever I have ventured into the health center feeling nervous or ill, I have always been greeted with a smiling face and an exchange of friendly anecdotes to diffuse whatever worries I had scrambling around in my brain. Whether it has been Brittany Marcinowski, a health center receptionist, complimenting my eye makeup on a day when I didn’t feel so well, or Camille Elizabeth, a nurse, taking my blood pressure while recommending places for me to visit in the Pioneer Valley, the health center staff has made me feel better on days when my body would not cooperate. Beyond health center employees, I see friends, resources, and confidantes.
I think the most meaningful experience I’ve had at Keefe Health Center was just a few weeks ago when I had to take a blood test. I have avoided blood tests for years because of my fear of blood and needles. Angel Russek, a nurse at the health center who is very much an “angel” for her patience and helpfulness, noticed my panicked face as I lay down for the blood draw. I decided to tell her about my fear of needles and tricky veins that most doctors and nurses can’t get to. She told me not to worry, and that she would only try twice before handing the job over to Dr. Morgan. Unfortunately, my veins were noncompliant, so the doctors set up a special plan to make the blood test successful. I drank a lot of liquids and reported back the next morning for my blood draw (primetime for peeking veins), and Dr. Morgan calmed me with a friendly conversation until he said, “All done!” What? I had never experienced such a painless procedure before! Never would I have expected to leave the health center that day raving to my friends about a blood test.
As college students, our health can sometimes seem like an unnecessary stress when we’d rather use our limited spare time for club activities or getting ahead in class. However, if you ever do find yourself in need of extra care, do not be afraid to seek help from the lovely staff at Keefe Health Center. Equally as important, remember to take the time to thank and get to know the very people who thrive upon seeing you healthy. I, for one could not be more thankful for the Keefe Health Center employees, and the resourcefulness, kindness, and comfort they provide for everyone who walks through the door.