MARQUETTE - As Northern Michigan University students begin to filter back into town this week, they will quickly become acquainted with their surroundings.
Before the first day of fall classes even rolls around Monday, many will have already found the best places to buy textbooks, get a beer, purchase clothing and grab a bite to eat.
Most, however, will have given very little thought to where they will turn for medical care, should the need arise.
The Ada Vielmetti Health Center on the Northern Michigan University campus gives students an on-campus option for most health care needs. (Journal photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
And for NMU students, the most convenient place for that is the Ada B. Vielmetti Health Center, located on the NMU campus.
Robin Aho, the medical office manager at the health center, said students often see financial benefits by turning to the health center staff.
"We do have reduced rates," she said. "The students get a discount."
Additionally, the university is self-insured, so faculty and staff often receive better rates, as well.
Aho said the staff is made up of two physicians, a physician assistant and three registered nurses. At their disposal is a full retail pharmacy and a lab, among other amenities.
To a large degree, the staff focuses on preventive and acute care, according to Aho. Employees often deal with minor ailments, as well as annual and sports physicals and birth control, she said. They also promote diabetes and heart care.
Dr. David Luoma, the medical director of the health center, said he hopes to provide a key service to the university community.
"We hope to be the primary care providers for students, faculty, staff, retirees and their dependents," he said.
Luoma estimates that, during an average day while school is in session, the health center sees 50 to 60 patients.
Since he began working in his current position during the summer of 2011, Luoma has placed a focus on offering immunizations.
"I think immunizations are an important part of preventive care and keeping the population healthy," he said. "We have a very mobile population, with the international programs the university does, so we provide full travel counseling and immunizations for travel abroad."
Those programs, Luoma said, are very well utilized.
Currently, health center staff are gearing up for the beginning of school by overseeing a shift to electronic medical records.
Such record-keeping will soon be mandated, but the shift at NMU is being done in anticipation of another, larger shift.
As part of a campus construction and renovation project, Gries Hall - where the health center is currently located - will be demolished. Luoma isn't currently 100 percent sure where the health center will be located in the future.
"Right now, we will be relocating to another place on campus," he said. "There will be multiple moves, as we understand it."
He said some discussions have been had about co-locating a number of health-related offices - including counseling, health promotions and athletic training - into a single location in the future.
Luoma would love to see cooperation like that. This coming year, he said, three nurse practitioner students will be seeing patients in the health center in order to gain their required clinic hours.
"One thing we've really tried to do and are really proud of is we work really closely with the counseling center on campus, the athletic training injury clinic," he said. "Thats really been a big theme of mine - to work across campus."
The health center is currently located on the ground floor of Gries Hall. Appointments can be made by calling 906-227-2355.
Kyle Whitney can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.