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Need a doctor? You already paid for that

Palomar’s Health Center has biweekly doctor visits for students to take advantage of. Jan 26, 2016. (Christopher Jones/The Telescope)


I usually try to rid my writing of generalizations but I think it is safe to say that college students, particularly, appreciate free services. Fortunately for Palomar students there is such a service: the Health Center.

Actually, it’s not exactly free. But every Palomar student, upon enrolling for the semester, pays a $19 state-mandated fee (the price drops to $6 for the summer semester). This fee then allows students admittance into the Health Centers on both the San Marcos and Escondido campus.

At the Health Center, students can access a variety of medical services from women’s and men’s health, to immunizations and HIV testing. Also, for more serious treatments and diagnostics, students can schedule appointments to see an on-site nurse, physician, nurse practitioner or doctor.

“We [Health Center] want everybody to know that they get free visits with the physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, and the doctor. It’s like free healthcare for the students,” according to Lenka Schalkle, a staff member at the Health Center,

For the more serious patients, or for those who have scheduled an appointment, Dr. Mast is on campus from 8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday. Dr. Mast has been helping Palomar students for over 10 years and specializes in osteopathic medicine.

Dr. Mast noted that his background in osteopathic medicine allows him to help student patients especially, and because he is located on the campus, students can see the doctor without it interfering with their time at the college.

“We take care of a lot of issues for the students here. They need to find out what is going on and then they can get back to their lives,” Dr. Mast said.

On a usual day Dr. Mast will see anywhere from 10 to 15 patients. This includes walk-in patients with urgent needs, those who have scheduled an appointment or patients that have been referred for additional treatment from a staff member.

“This is like a little family practice here and Palomar is our family,” Dr. Mast added.

One recurring issue with the Health Center, and one that may be expected with Palomar’s continually changing student body, is that many students simply are not aware of the services available there.

Palomar student, Robert Osorio, 29, visited the Health Center after his professor mentioned it during a class. Osorio utilized their services to catch up on immunizations required for a job he was interested in.

Osorio was reluctant to find out about the health services provided on campus, and acknowledged low student awareness on campus.

“I don’t think it’s a question of, ‘should students take advantage?’ It’s just I don’t think they know they have this available,” he said.

Both Dr. Mast and Osorio noted the convenience of on-campus health services for busy students and as a way to keep students on campus and, eventually, back to their classes and moving on with their education.

“This is affordable compared to like all the other services you have to pay for if you’re going through like an out-patient clinic, or VA, or any other kind of health service,” Osorio said.

If you are enrolled in Palomar, you already have access to on-campus health services. The Health Center is available on the San Marcos campus Monday through Friday, and Monday through Thursday at Palomar’s Escondido campus, or can be reached at 760-744-1150 x 2380.

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Need a doctor? You already paid for that