As UNM students try to adjust to changes — including the closure of the dorms and classes moving online — the Student Health and Counseling Center (SHAC) is taking measures to work around the COVID-19 outbreak.
In response to the spread of the coronavirus in New Mexico, SHAC medical visits are being converted to phone appointments when possible and all in-person counseling sessions will be converted to teletherapy.
These changes were announced to students late last week as part of a number of measures being taken to ensure social distancing mandates are followed.
"SHAC's entire team — medical, counseling and administration included — are working diligently to ensure that students will always have access to health care," Tiffany Martinez-Durant, manager of marketing and communication for SHAC, said.
Other precautionary measures include making only the clinic's west entrance available and ramping up sanitization efforts.
Martinez-Durant said that it's hard to predict whether or not the closure of the dorms will result in a decline in appointments.
"Besides not being able to always have in-person appointments, we are hoping to minimize any impact on our quality of care for students," Martinez-Durant said.
Last academic year, SHAC saw over 30,000 medical and mental health face-to-face visits and over 400 after-hours urgent mental health calls which were handled by licensed counselors, per its annual report.
Medical and mental health visits are not all that SHAC provides for the UNM community.
During the same 2018-19 academic year, SHAC filled nearly 22,000 prescriptions. As of the publication of this article, SHAC's Pharmacy remains open during their standard Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. hours.
SHAC is one of many health care providers trying to adapt to the outbreak.
Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains (PPRM), which has two clinics in Albuquerque, is screening patients over the phone and requiring that any friends or family accompanying patients wait in the car.
Despite these precautions, PPRM continues to provide a full range of services, including general care, STD testing and abortions. PPRM strategic communications manager Neta Meltzer said they do not expect a decline in appointments.
"We know that these kinds of events can exacerbate existing barriers in access to care, and create new ones," Meltzer said. "As this crisis strains our medical systems, we could see shortages in contraceptives and commonly used treatments."
As of March 23, the total number of COVID-19 cases in New Mexico stands at 83, with 38 in Bernalillo County.
Although SHAC is not a testing site for the coronavirus, they recommend those who may need testing to call SHAC at 505-277-3136 for guidance.
Bella Davis is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @bladvs