For 20 years, Charlene Johnson has been the first point of contact and a friendly face for students seeking care at SUNY Jamestown Community College Health Center.
As an administrative assistant, she has witnessed many changes over the past two decades in the way the college deals with students. The biggest change, Johnson said, is the growing number of students coming in for help with mental health issues and, in turn, the way JCC has adapted to meet those needs.
“It’s a lot bigger,” she said.
While it may seem obvious for a student to venture to the health center for help with a headache or other physical illness, it only scratches the surface of the care he may receive. staff from the JCC health center.
“We use a holistic model,” said Paula Snyder, executive director of the Cattaraugus County campus and the college’s longtime former nurse manager. “We take care of the mind, body and spirit of the student. These three sound elements equal academic achievement. We support the student’s academic journey through this.
It was good news on campus when JCC health centers opened their doors to students and staff for the first time in nearly a year last March. The hours of operation for the fall are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday at the Jamestown College and Cattaraugus County campuses.
The centers are run by RNs Kathy Manhart in Jamestown and Roger Johnson at Olean’s Cattaraugus County campus.
Manhart came to JCC full-time two years ago after serving as a substitute in college and for Jamestown Public Schools. More than once, she has seen a student stop for a minor physical problem, then linger at the desk for a chat after receiving treatment.
After 30 years of working in the hospital, she enjoyed building relationships with students – something, she said, is essential to being a good university nurse.
“You take care of the immediate needs, but you have the opportunity to build rapport and friendship with the students, and they will come back with other concerns,” Manhart said. “One of the really nice things about being here in an academic setting is seeing the students over and over and building rapport and trust. When they come to you because they have a bad cold, you have the option of letting them see you and feel the care that we provide at the health center, and then they come back for other problems as well.
Roger Johnson said the college health center is “a safe space where students can come and feel safe.”
“We are building trust,” he said.
“Sometimes,” he added, “people just need to talk to someone, and by talking with them we can determine if it’s just something they need to relax. rather than needing to speak to a counselor. “
HEALTH center staff often refer students to JCC counselors, who can then refer students to an outside agency for therapy or other care.
The college has also compiled a regional resource contact list for students and community members seeking help with emotional and mental health, dietary needs, family care, transportation, preparation for work and Moreover. The resources are available at sunyjcc.edu/gethelp.
Conversations shared between patients and JCC health center staff are confidential. In some cases, however, staff are obligated to report information when there is a reasonable cause, such as abuse, discrimination, or a threat to harm themselves or others.
“It’s very important, especially if there is a known story,” Roger Johnson said. “Nurses are mandatory filers, and in some cases we can’t keep this information private. It is for the safety of the student or the staff who confide in us.
Johnson, who started JCC in January, feels at home at the school where he earned a nursing degree.
From an early age, Johnson aspired to follow his grandmother, mother and two aunts in the health arena. He was born and raised in the Jamaican West Indies and came to the United States with his family in 1981, residing in New Jersey.
“Back then there was this stigma around nurses,” he said. “The guys weren’t nurses. Or there weren’t many of us anyway.
So instead of being a nurse, Johnson attended DeVry University after high school to become a computer technician. He worked for Bristol Myers Squibb in its consumer products division until he and 3,500 other employees were laid off after part of the business was sold to Procter & Gamble.
Looking back, the separation has been a blessing. Johnson, in search of a career change, moved in 2002 from New Jersey to the Olean area, where he studied at BOCES to become a registered practical nurse (LPN) and at JCC in 2009 to become a registered nurse. He served as an emergency nurse at the Olean General Hospital before coming to the JCC.
“I wanted to go back to school for a career where I was able to take care of my community, no matter what community I moved to,” said Johnson, whose wife Jennifer is also a care program alum. JCC nurses.
Johnson and his colleagues at the health center continue to perform weekly COVID-19 tests for students and staff. They also screen sick or quarantined patients over the phone every day, including weekends.
This all contrasts with the pre-COVID days, when Charlene Johnson was responsible for organizing sexual health clinics, Top Chef cooking contests, sleep and relaxation seminars, arts and crafts activities, creating your own. sundae events and spa days that quelled nerves and helped students find the right frame of mind for final exams.
Like the reopening of health centers, these events returned this academic year. And, more than handing out drugs and doing checkups, staff at the JCC health center remain committed to helping students perform at their best in all aspects of their lives.
“I love working with students,” Johnson said. “It’s always something different. They all have different personalities. Sometimes they just need to hear a kind voice.