It’s 7:55 a.m. on Feb. 10, 2011. It’s a frigid morning in Greeley, Colo. Time seems to pass slowly while standing outside in the freezing cold waiting to be let inside. The Health Center at the University of Northern Colorado opens at 8 a.m., and since walk-ins are welcome many students are waiting. Some students cough, and as they do so steam rises from their mouths in the icy air. Another student shivers as she blows her congested nose.
Cassidy Hall is home to both health and counseling services for students at UNC. It is located on central campus at 10th Avenue and 19th Street. Services are available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.
Finally, after what seems to be the longest five minutes ever, the doors to the Health Center open. The Health Center is located at Cassidy Hall on Central Campus. Cassidy Hall is at the corner of 10th Avenue and 19th Street. It’s warm inside. The familiar smell of cleaning products is overwhelming as the doors open.
The patients line up and one by one they check in at the front desk, giving the receptionist their names and insurance cards. New patients must fill out massive amounts of paperwork disclosing their medical history, the last thing most people want to do when they are sick.
The waiting room is pretty standard: lots of hard chairs to sit in and countless magazines, such as Sports Illustrated, Good Housekeeping and Time. It’s beginning to feel colder inside as the initial warmth of the building disappears. Several bottles of hand sanitizer are placed throughout the room
Eventually, nurses begin calling students back one by one. According to some students, the wait is agonizing, being as sick as they are.
It’s now 10 a.m. At least a dozen students have come and gone in the past few hours. Most seem to have the same symptoms; they appear flushed, congested and have a deep whoop-like cough. These all seem to be very similar to the symptoms of the flu. According to WebMD, flu symptoms include fever (usually high), severe aches and pains in the joints and muscles and around the eyes, generalized weakness, ill appearance with warm, flushed skin, red watery eyes, headache, dry cough, sore throat and watery discharge from your nose. Even though the flu shot is widely distributed, there are so many strands of the virus that it is very easy to still get sick.
At 10:45 a.m. a woman walks in and appears to be very sick and uncomfortable. She is as white as a ghost. It is extremely difficult to understand her as her voice is gone because of a severe sore throat.
“I’ve had the chills all night and I feel like someone took sand paper to the inside of my throat,” said Danielle Ludwig, a graduate student at UNC. “To make matters worse, I have been vomiting all morning and last I checked I had a fever of 101 degrees.”
It’s now 11:15 a.m. Thirty minutes have passed since she arrived in the waiting room when a voice echoes from the front of the waiting room. “Danielle,” called the nurse. There are others sitting in the waiting room who appear to be just as bad off as she is.
At 12:05 p.m., Danielle finally reappears from out of the doctor’s office. “The doctor says I have the flu and there is not much she can do for me. I just have to stay well hydrated and rest,” she said. Unfortunately, this is the case for many people during the flu season.
Although it is indeed the flu season, not all students who passed through the Health Center were necessarily sick. One young man in particular stood out. He has scratches on his chin and a bandage around his arm.
“Nah, I’m not sick,” said Tim Daly, a sophomore at UNC who has an injured arm. “I fell off my bike the other day when I accidently rode over ice; I’m here to make sure it’s not broken.”
It’s now 4:45 p.m. Only 15 more minutes until the doors at the Health Center close and students are back out in the chilling cold weather. The Health Center has seen all sorts of patients in just a day’s time. It’s the perfect place for students to come when they are in need of medical attention.