By Maureen Hurley, Director of Parent and Family Programs
As a parent, I dread the “Mom, I don’t feel good” phone call or text from my daughter (so much so that I don’t even point out her error in grammar).
When she was a first-year student, I realized that I had always previously taken control when she was ill. “Put on your pajamas, lie down on the couch, eat this soup, take this medicine.” And most of the time that worked.
But what about when she’s on her own with her first bad cold? I hadn’t really prepared her for the realities of being sick and having to rely on herself. Together we learned to help her figure out when she needed to go the the college’s health center, and when she could handle it on her own. Below is a checklist that I found helpful.
When should my student visit a health professional?
Your student needs to figure out if something is “just a cold” or more serious. According to EverydayHealth.com, they should visit a health professional (either CHW, an Urgent Care facility, or sometimes even an Emergency Department) if they have any of these symptoms:
- A high, prolonged fever (above 102 F)
- Symptoms (such as a sore throat or cough) that last more than 10 days or get worse instead of better
- Trouble breathing or shortness of breath
- Pain or pressure in the chest, which could indicate pneumonia
- Fainting (or feeling faint), loss of balance, dizziness
- Confusion, memory loss, disorientation
- Moderate or severe stomach pain; persistent nausea
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- Severe headache that peaks in intensity within seconds; severe pain in face or forehead
- Blurred or double vision
- Numbness or weakness in arms, legs or face
- Symptoms of dehydration
You might find it helpful to go over this list with your student so they can take care of themselves and also be prepared to help a friend or roommate!
If the situation warrants a visit to a medical professional, your student’s first stop may be the Center for Health and Wellness. All Center visits are by appointment only and students should call call to schedule an appointment at 617-824-8666 or by visiting the front desk at 216 Tremont Street, 3rd Floor, Room 303. Any students seeking care will be scheduled for the next available appointment. According to the CHW, “we encourage students to call the CHW for all health concerns rather than walking in and this is especially true during flu season as we want to minimize transmission of the virus. We would prefer to speak with students to make an assessment by phone as to which is the best disposition for them, self care with phone advice, a same day visit to CHW or directly to an Emergency Department via Emerson College Police Department or ambulance”. The CHW does not provide emergency services, but is certainly able to make referrals. Students may refer to this list for medical providers when the CHW is not available.
Hopefully you won’t get the “I don’t feel well” phone call anytime soon, but chances are all of us parents should be ready for it!