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Adirondack Hall

Adirondack Hall at SUNY Adirondack is seen in September. The college has 400 students living on campus, but no health center. So officials are working with Hudson Headwaters Health Network to get a mobile health van.

QUEENSBURY — With 400 students living on campus, SUNY Adirondack officials have been wrestling over the issue of a health center.

Building one is incredibly expensive. Staffing it isn’t cheap either.

So the college is partnering with Hudson Headwaters Health Network on a grant proposal for a mobile health van. They are hoping for good news later this year from the Charles R. Wood Foundation, which announced that it would invest $1 million over the next three years on innovative health care proposals that address barriers to health care.

Hudson Headwaters has also applied to the Wood Foundation for funding to place a mobile health van in Salem.

To some extent, a van is a matter of economics. It is much cheaper than a full-staffed building.

“A health center, the cost is quite high. Being able to staff a health center, especially after hours, is quite substantial,” said college President Kristine Duffy. “A van, I think it’s a very creative way to be financially efficient.”

She also suspects that the college doesn’t need a full-time health center. She noted that only 10% of the students live on campus. That’s about 400 students. While many don’t have cars, they can ride the bus for free and the resident advisers have taxi tokens to give out if a student needs to get to urgent care at a time when the bus isn’t running.

Last year, RAs gave out a total of six tokens, Duffy said.

“So it may not be (a need) as much as people think it is,” she said. “Certainly, we recognize when you don’t feel well, you want someone right there.”

Students have repeatedly requested an on-campus health center. Teachers have supported those requests, and last year the college formed a committee to explore all the options. A mobile van was one of the ideas.

For now, Hudson Headwaters helps resident students “get connected” with a primary care provider in the area. The college gives out a list of urgent care centers in the area.

“But we think the van would be a great service to our students,” Duffy said. “This is a great idea. Don’t forget, given the rural area we’re in, transportation is their largest barrier.”

She is hoping it could provide acute care — such as prescriptions for common ailments — and referrals for follow-up care when that is needed.

“We’re excited to be able to partner with Hudson Headwaters,” she said.

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You can reach Kathleen Moore at 742-3247 or kmoore@poststar.com. Follow her on Twitter @ByKathleenMoore or at her blog on www.poststar.com.

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