NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

NECC’s health services

Does Northern Essex have adequate health services?

On a Friday morning of September 2016, then 19-year-old student Haley Abernathy was stepping off of a curb on NECC’s campus when she rolled her ankle and felt immediate pain. Abernathy had fractured her foot, and near by students called campus security. Abernathy quickly learned that NECC does not have an on staff nurse, and when the campus security guard came, she said they claimed it was a sprain, but she knew it was more than that. There wasn’t much they could do besides call an ambulance. Abernathy is aware that for a fractured foot a nurse would also not be able to do much in that situation, but she stated “campus security guards are not nurses, and having a nurse on site would have made the experience more comfortable and less traumatizing”.

Karen Hruska is Northern Essex’s Director of Counseling and Psychological Resources and according to her, having a nurse is costly, and data shows that most students on community college campuses were not utilizing their on site nurses, and preferred Minute-Clinics that accepted personal insurance over a campus nurse. Abernathy recommends having the nursing or EMT students intern on campus for health services but it is unclear how that would be implemented, and unpredictable how many students would utilize the service. Northern Essex does offer other Counseling services and community health services to its students that can easily be accessed.

Northern Essex offers free counseling service’s to any NECC student, the counseling is confidential and you do not need a referral. The type of counseling is what Hruska described as “brief short-term therapy”, but they can get referrals for outpatient therapists as well. Awareness for counseling services could always be higher as Hruska says, “people don’t listen until they need it”. To spread awareness of NECC’s Counseling Service’s they do classroom outreach presentations where they discuss things such as coping skills, anxiety and depression in students.

There are also many health services in the community that students can access as well. Janel D’Agata-Lynch, Coordinator of Civic Engagement, Service Learning and Community Resources works with students to help them find things like referrals for medical services, other places they can go that will accept their insurance etc. D’Agata-Lynch also works on bringing more community resources to campus as well, such as the Greater Lawrence Community Action Council, which is funded to help enroll people in Mass Health. She hopes to bring them on both campuses once a month. There was also a resource and service fair that came to the Haverhill Campus Thursday October 11 that invited non-profits to advertise their services as well as their volunteer opportunities, and on Monday October 15th on the Lawrence campus there was a Health fair hosted by Health professionals. D’Agata-Lynch feels that there’s “always room for improvement, however I feel we’re very lucky because there’s a lot of good health resources in this area that students can access”. To access other resources in the community you can always visit The NECC website, or call the 211 hotline for resource referral which is available 24 hours.