By contributor Aislinn Cottell

This semester, a new general practitioner and psychiatrist will be available to students in need of mental and physical health care on campus.

Up until August, the Health Clinic was operating with a single nurse practitioner and a medical office assistant. A second nurse was then hired who will be working with the Centre until the end of February. GP Dr. Dagny Vaney started on September 20, and psychiatrist Dr. Kehinde Oluyede started on September 30.

The new staff are the result of a collaboration with Island Health, who are providing funding for the second nurse practitioner and Dr. Oluyede, and the Division of Family Practice, who are providing funding for Dr. Vaney.

“We’ve been very fortunate to have that partnership and also the shared commitment between the Vancouver Island Health Authority and VIU to ensure that our students here are receiving primary health care,” said Marge Huntley, Director of Student Affairs. “It’s one of those unique relationships that you don’t find on other campuses.”

Dr. Vaney will be available for student appointments in bldg. 200 every Tuesday morning from 9:20 am to 12:30 pm, until March. She will provide the same primary health services as any family doctor, including giving prescriptions and referrals to other specialists.

Dr. Oluyede (“Dr. Kenny” for short), will be available one Friday per month for students referred by either Dr. Vaney or one of the nurse practitioners. Dr. Kenny will provide mental health assessments as well as ongoing mental health care for students on campus. She will also help to organize a student psycho-educational group run by her and one of VIU’s student counselors, which will be there to offer extra support to referred students suffering from anxiety and depression.

“The real focus of the health clinic and the Health and Wellness Centre is to provide a continuum of care, whether that’s physical health or mental health and well-being,” said Huntley.

As VIU holds a diverse population, there are a variety of issues students face, ranging from temporary conditions such as the flu, to more chronic afflictions like asthma. Adding to that, the nature of the school environment can be very stressful. Huntley hopes having more staff on hand will make getting help that much more convenient for those who need it.

In addition, the Health and Wellness Centre is now offering extended hours on all their services every Tuesday night until 6:30 pm. Students with busy day-time schedules due to school or work will be able to access the Advising and Financial Aid services on a drop-in basis, and the Clinic, Counseling, and Disability services by appointment.

All Health and Wellness Centre services are available for free to all registered local, out of province, or international VIU students, provided they have certified health insurance coverage either under Green Shield or another provider.