Mills has signed a contract with Kaiser Permanente to provide healthcare coverage and on-campus care for students via a new health facility, President Janet Holmgren announced in a memo on Wednesday.
The decision comes in response to student “desire for an on-site medical facility, as many students have experienced challenges accessing health care that is not conveniently located,” according to the president’s memo.
Mills will soon construct the health facility in the Chemistry, Physics, Math and Computer Science building (CPM), room 117.
The grand opening of the facility will be held in the beginning of the fall semester.
“Dean of Students Joi Lewis will release more in-depth information on the switch to the Kaiser health plan later this week,” the memo read.
At an Apr. 6 community meeting, Lewis said the College was considering the switch to Kaiser.
Later, she said in an e-mail, “Many students have shared that they really would like to have health coverage on campus.”
Mills students currently use the Tang Center at UC Berkeley, a student-focused health facility that services Mills and Cal students. It also includes some faculty and staff of these institutions.
The Tang Center provides some services and information specifically for students, including care for anxiety and depression, sexual health, and care for body piercings.
Kaiser is the largest not-for-profit health care provider in the nation, serving over three million people in Northern California alone, according to their website.
Lewis said the administration considered how much switching to Kaiser will cost, how many services the insurance will cover, and how accessible the Kaiser facilities will be.
She said they also considered Mills’ history with the Tang Center.
“We also have to think about this in the context of a very important relationship we have had with Tang and UC Berkeley for over 20 years,”ÿLewis said.
Dawn Berden, a freshwoman who works at the Women’s Health Resource Center (WHRC), is concerned with the quality of health care services for Mills students.
“The most important thing for us is always improving the quality and quantity of health information that students have available to them, regardless of the venue,” said Berden.
Berden also said she wanted the health care provider to be an ally of the WHRC.
Others were less supportive of the switch. Rahel Negusse, class of 2002, said she is suspicious of Kaiser’s motives.
She said she wondered if Kaiser would be offering free or deeply discounted care to Mills students. “If they are, I would bet that there are some sort of research strings tied to it,” she said.
She said that Kaiser is a huge money machine. “Plus, it’s hard to ignore its hand in the current health crisis that we have in this country,” she added.