Monday, February 6, 2023

UT Health San Antonio to provide on-campus health services at UTSA

UT Health San Antonio to provide on-campus health services at UTSA

JUNE 1, 2021 — UTSA and UT Health San Antonio are expanding their recently announced partnership as part of UTSA’s efforts to implement an integrated college health plan aligned with current national best practices. UTSA is entering into an interagency agreement with UT Health San Antonio to provide integrated and expanded clinical services for student health, counseling, mental health needs and services. 

This agreement aligns with UTSA’s Enriching Campus Wellbeing Initiative, which focuses on the wellbeing of each member of the campus community. “The Wellbeing Initiative goals to prioritize the holistic health of our students through expanded services is a central component of this partnership,” said LT Robinson, senior vice provost for student affairs and dean of students at UTSA. “Together, we will ensure that all student services—both physical and mental health—are positioned to facilitate care that promotes student success and expands availability.”

“UTSA is advancing our commitment to provide high-quality comprehensive health care for the benefit of our students.”

In 2020, UTSA completed a holistic external review of Student Health Services (SHS) and Counseling and Mental Health Services (CMHS) conducted by Hodgkins Beckley Consulting, a “best in class” health care management consulting group that specializes in higher education. As part of their assessment, consultants identified national best practices in comprehensive college health programs, conducted on-campus interviews with multiple stakeholders, and benchmarked UTSA’s health care services against nine peer institutions with comparable student enrollments and demographics.

Feedback from students and additional stakeholders was an integral part of the assessment. Through the review process, students, staff, and families expressed the need for additional information about services and for specialty services to be more comprehensive. Therefore, the recommendations from their review included transitioning to a completely integrated health program focused on holistic wellness and wellbeing to ensure all student services, both physical and mental health, are positioned to facilitate care that promotes student success and expands availability. 

The partnership with UT Health San Antonio will allow UTSA to implement these recommendations, substantially expand the breadth and depth of services offered to students, and provide a fully integrated holistic health plan where students will receive comprehensive services regardless of the originating need.

In addition, the agreement will provide UTSA the opportunity to explore opportunities for new services with UT Health San Antonio, including services not currently offered at Student Health Services, and future services to faculty and staff. UT Health San Antonio launched a similar partnership with the Alamo Colleges District earlier this year to provide primary health care services to all Alamo Colleges students.

“The wellbeing of our students is a top priority. Through the expansion of this partnership, UTSA is advancing our commitment to provide high-quality comprehensive health care for the benefit of our students," said Kimberly Andrews Espy, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at UTSA. "Our partners at UT Health San Antonio have the necessary expertise to help us achieve our goals of fostering a culture of physical, emotional and social wellbeing at UTSA to provide a healthy environment for Roadrunners to learn and live."

The integration will take place in two phases. The first phase includes services provided by Student Health Services transitioning to providers employed by UT Health San Antonio on August 1, 2021, which also marks the expansion of services including behavioral medicine, women’s health and additional treatment services and diagnostics. The second phase includes transitioning responsibilities for individual counseling to UT Health San Antonio on January 1, 2022.

Throughout the fall 2021 semester, UT Health San Antonio and Student Affairs will create and implement a staffing plan for counseling services within the integrated college health model and determine the optimal structure of the integrated approach for counseling, crisis, and advocacy services, including the engagement of current CMHS staff. Employees of Student Health Services and Counseling and Mental Health Services affected by this transition will be provided opportunities to apply for employment with UT Health San Antonio.

“UT Health San Antonio Wellness 360 is proud to expand our strategic partnership with UTSA in support of the university’s wellbeing initiative and as part of our commitment to maintain and promote the health of college students in Bexar County,” said Eileen Breslin, dean of the School of Nursing at UT Health San Antonio. “Our team of clinicians offer a holistic approach to taking care of students’ health and wellness, and we are ready and excited to join with UTSA in this endeavor.”

Melissa Hernandez will serve as interim associate dean of students for wellbeing at UTSA effective June 1, 2021.

“Melissa brings extensive expertise in developing new programs and services aimed at enhancing holistic student wellbeing, bystander intervention, and the prevention of suicide and sexual violence to the role. This integration helps us amplify these efforts,” Robinson said. “She will work closely with students, faculty, staff and partners to build on our current efforts providing additional pathways for support, intervention, services and advocacy.”

“I look forward to working with our team as well as our university and community partners to accelerate programs and services to promote a campus environment focused on all facets of wellbeing and support,” Hernandez added.

⇒ UTSA and UT Health San Antonio’s strategic partnership to advance health and wellness initiatives

UTSA and UT Health San Antonio first announced the formation of a comprehensive, inter-institutional partnership to advance their shared goal of creating a healthier society in April of 2021. For the initial step, UT Health San Antonio became the official health care provider for UTSA Athletics, offering student-athletes access to the health science center’s distinguished physicians and clinicians for primary care; for orthopedics, physical therapy and other specialties; and for imaging and surgical services.

UT Health San Antonio will also build a major community outpatient center on UTSA’s Park West Campus that will ultimately support the sports medicine program for UTSA student-athletes and has the potential to provide future collaborative opportunities in academics, research and health care delivery.

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