The Vera Whole Health Clinic had its grand opening on Nov. 14 after hiring their new nurse practitioner, Rebecca Faith.
The clinic was unable to see students before Faith joined its staff, but is now able to provide students with primary care, acute care, sexual health services and health coaching. The Vera staff believes health coaching is important to promote individual behavior change.
“Our providers guide and involve patients in their individual health journeys and empower patients to be proactive in their health decisions,” the Vera staff said in an email. “We take the time to address patients’ whole health, not just their symptoms; prescriptive medicine can only take patients so far.”
Vera began the search for a nurse practitioner for the campus as soon as the clinic secured the contract to operate at Mills. Along with their other criteria for selecting a nurse practitioner, Vera searched for someone with enthusiasm for interacting with the Mills community.
“Rebecca Faith is the ideal nurse practitioner for Mills College,” the Vera staff said. “She exceeded all our hiring criteria, and even better, is an alum of Mills College.”
Senior Sian Morris is excited to have a Mills alum working as the nurse practitioner, and is glad that Vera has emphasized they will provide sexual health services for the LGBTQ+ population.
“I think we need more people who are specialized in trans health or sexual health for the queer community,” Morris said.
Judith Pierce Davison, manager of wellness and community outreach at Mills College Division of Student Life, believes that Vera is the perfect fit for the Mills community.
“Given the diverse health needs of our student body, we wanted a clinic staff with expertise not only in medical health, but could also address common concerns such as stress, chronic conditions and health insurance confusion,” Davison said. “Vera Whole Health was an ideal partner because their staff are trained to speak with clients about wellness and any barriers to optimal health.”
Vera focuses on preventive care and health coaching for behavior change to prevent people from getting sick, rather than simply treating people when they do get sick. Morris believes that preventative care is a crucial part of health chealare.
“I think preventative care is great and the main type of care we should be focusing on. I think that’s one of the main problems of the U.S. in general – we’re not focusing on preventative care,” Morris said. “I think preventative care is essential and should be taken more seriously.”
Before the Vera clinic was on campus, Kaiser was the only insurance accepted at the campus clinic. Now, Vera will see all students free of charge regardless of their health insurance. The Vera staff believe that in order to have a healthy campus, all students must have access to care.
“It is commonly understood that good health positively impacts an individual’s overall happiness,” the Vera staff said. “However, to achieve optimum health, patients must be engaged in their health, and being able to engage all students at Mills allows for greater health opportunities on the Mills campus.”
Senior Amelia Ravitz-Dworkin (who uses they/them pronouns) doesn’t have Kaiser insurance, so they weren’t able to be seen at the campus clinic before Vera. Ravitz-Dworkin says it is important for students to have access to health care on campus.
“I’m from here and I have a doctor here that I’ve been going to since I was little, but it’s still hard to get an appointment sometimes. When you’re sick you don’t want to leave campus,” Ravitz-Dworkin said. “I love the idea of being able to go between classes.”
Ravitz-Dworkin is excited that all Mills students can now access the campus clinic for free, and believes that all people deserve free health care.
“Health care is a human right, everyone deserves to get their health needs taken care of,” Ravitz-Dworkin said. “Everyone deserves freedom and dignity in their own body and that’s really cool that Mills is moving forward in that direction.”