UA, GSC compile medical surveys
By Dave Watt
A report released by the Graduate Student Council Housing and Community Affairs Committee (HCA) and Undergraduate Association Ad Hoc Committee on Medical Services on Nov. 27 says students are generally satisfied with MIT medical services, but contains several recommendations for improving both access and quality of care.
The report, titled Student Evaluation of MIT Medical Department and Medical Services, is based on a survey distributed on Registration Day in September and filled out by over 1300 students, over 800 of whom were graduate students. It represents the largest survey of student satisfaction with the health service in over a decade, according to Linda L. Rounds, executive director of the MIT Medical Department.
Medical Department officials said the survey will be used as a means to improve health care and insurance coverage for students.
The report's suggestions will be studied by several committees of Medical Department senior staff, according to Arnold N. Weinberg, medical director and head of the MIT Medical Department.
Weinberg suggested that the survey might lead to more evening hours and more dental services. He also felt that communication between the medical center and students should improve.
Weinberg said that assigning each student to a particular physician had not served to improve their awareness of the services available. "Student assignment to a physician has failed miserably for a majority of students. What I'd hoped was that a student would get more of a feeling for organizing their own health care," he said.
Many students do not know about or use many health services, according to the GSC-UA report. For instance, 84 percent of respondents to the survey did not know about the patient advocate, whose job it is to help students in disputes or problems with the Medical Department.
Report is mostly
Most of the report consists of a compilation of student comments, and two pages summarizing the total statistics on all of the questions answered. Much of the statistical data was inconclusive, leading the committee members to base the majority of their recommendations on student comments.
The graduate students who worked on the report said they are happy with it. "It's clear that people listen to you when they see statistics," said Olof C. Hellman G, chair of the HCA. "We've made our case real by backing it up with real voices of real students."
However, some have criticized the report, which they say contains too many numbers, too many recommendations, and too many anecdotes. UA leaders have suggested that Jonathan J. Lee '93, chair of the UA medical services committee, be replaced because the position requires more time than Lee, who is also UA floor leader, is able to give.
But Hellman defended the report in its present form. "They don't see what power the document has," Hellman said. "It's compelling to me, but if people are missing it, then I'll have to hear their specific concerns before I can respond to them."
He also defended Lee's role in producing the report. "The needs of the two student bodies conflict. Jonathan has been great because he has had to run the fine line between UA demands and . . . working together."
The health care report arises from a joint GSC-UA effort, initiated over the summer, in which four graduate and three undergraduate students participated.