Second health center candidate visits campus

Sarah Muller

Five people sat sporadically around the Gold Room on Thursday evening as Erin Baldwin, the second candidate for the Thielen Health Center director position, addressed concerns.

Baldwin has been working as chief operating officer for Mahaska Health Partnership since 2012 and has previously been involved with Primary Health Care as the operation director.

“First and foremost, making sure [the health care is] accessible to students or any marketplace,” Baldwin said in regard to her goals.

She hopes to collaborate with the university’s leadership in order to create a plan for student health services and make sure students are included in that process.

“Always being transparent [is a goal],” Baldwin said.

She said “word-of-mouth marketing” will revive the health center’s reputation, as well as social media tools that display positive actions.

“We need to create a great student experience every time [someone] comes to the health center,” Baldwin said.

Her personal goals were brought up when a student asked why she believes it is so important to improve conditions at the university. Her response demonstrated her emotional connection to Iowa State.

“There’s just something special about Iowa State,” Baldwin said. “There’s a family environment. [There are] good people, good students and a good mission.”

She also discussed her passion for making sure patients have access to health care and said she wants to bring that passion to Iowa State.

When asked about accessibility to care, Baldwin said new ways to expand access, in the morning, afternoon or evening, need to be discussed.

“Obviously hiring more physicians … would be key,” Baldwin said. “Then really how you structure the work of your care team you have then.”

She even suggested other locations for what she called “minute clinics” on campus to diagnose various routine, everyday illnesses such as strep throat.

Baldwin is drawn into the university’s transparency about the issues that have occurred, but understands there are challenges with continuing to be transparent moving forward.

As for advancing services, she hopes to create a department to connect students with knowledge about health care insurance to become more informed about their options and what is available to them.

“It’s not easy,” Baldwin said. “It’s a complex process.”

She expressed her hopes to increase collaboration between the health center and Student Counseling Services in order to assist mental health options. Whether medication or resources, she hopes to expand mental health facilities.

“That’s a person’s well-being,” Baldwin said. “It’s not only physical it’s that mental health component.”

Baldwin will soon meet with President Steven Leath.

“I am interested in getting [Leath’s] personal take in the Keeling Associate report … and what he really sees for student health services,” Baldwin said. “Then I think it’s understanding his leadership style, too, and whether that’s a good fit.”

She continued by explaining her style of leadership was based on collaboration and building relationships. Having a personal connection with the people she works with creates the most ideal atmosphere on a daily basis.

Discussion of the growth of student population was addressed, and Baldwin insisted on increasing space, staffing and more accessibility to the growing number of students.

“[With] that mix of students, whether it’s a number or a different diversity of students, it’s what services do we really need,” Baldwin said. “[Do we need to] tackle a different line of service that the student health hasn’t traditionally done in the past?”

Baldwin flipped the forum and began asking questions to students in the room about their opinions of the report and image of the health center. Concerns including the term “Student Death Center,” and the lack of a friendly atmosphere arose.

Another question Baldwin asked was about the services the school is lacking. Students suggested more communication with counseling services and voiced a growing need for women’s health assistance.

Friday’s Open Forum 

Erin Baldwin, second candidate for the Thielen Health Center director position, stood in front of a room of six people and presented her plan to improve the campus health facility Friday morning in the Gold Room of the Memorial Union.

“Healthier students are better learners,” Baldwin said.

Dating back to her day’s at Iowa State, Baldwin showed photos from when she was a student, explaining she got strep throat during her first week at school.

Baldwin transitioned into principles of a student health care. Bullets included student centered services, personal provider, quality and safety, enhanced access and physician directed medical practice.

Much of her time was spent detailing ideas she introduced on Thursday night during the open forum. When questions opened up, many in the crowd asked for simplification of some of her medical points, in order to relate to those who were not experts.

Reputation was a frequent question in which Baldwin responded that giving quality care is the first priority. Within time, she hopes that it will market itself by word-of-mouth and an online presence in social media.

“Our patients are our best marketers,” Baldwin said.