Conflict of Interest Endangers Students' Health

The Whittier College Student Health Service was never outstanding, there have been serious problems for years, among them the Health Center closing on Friday night for the weekend, during which the majority of sexual assaults are committed, which denied victims care by health workers with whom the victims were familiar, and making proving rapes more difficult because physical evidence must be collected within 12 hours of a rape. And the Whittier College Student Health Service has never been able to stem plagues that ruin students' quality of life year after year. But all the old student health care problems together pale in comparison with the student health care debacle that has unfolded this 2009-2010 academic year...

Quaker Campus articles, ' Director Singluff resigns amidst 'declining care' ' and ' Nearly 200 register without proper health forms ' by Josh Wood, and ' Students dissatisfied with changes to Health Center ' by Shelley Converse-Rath, brought the story to light.

A chronology of the on campus health care debacle:

Director of Health Services for the past 10 years, Colleen Leidy, resigned.

Dr. William Stimmler, and every doctor working under him, resigned. Dr. Stimmler had served Whittier College students for 22 years.

Whittier College signed a health service provision deal with PIH (Presbyterian Inter-Community Hospital), an important local economic engine, replacing health care previously provided by low turnover Whittier College Health Services employees who developed professional relationships with students, for whom the arrangement was much like having a family physician away from home. This deal is for PIH interns to provide relatively inexperienced and anonymous health care to students, more like going to a hospital emergency room than seeing a family doctor.

Succeeding Health Services Director Barbara Singluff then resigned - because the PIH deal serves PIH's interests, and Whittier College's financial interest, not the best interests of students.

"...our loyalty should lie with the students..." "We shouldn't be sacrificing the care of the students to provide an educational experience for [PIH interns]," Singluff said in explanation of her resignation.

Q C's Josh Wood reported that "Despite lacking proof of negative tuberculosis readings and proof of Hepatitis B vaccination...students were allowed to register for classes and move into dormitories, posing a serious public health issue to the student body, according to campus Health Service's Barbara Singluff."

Diseases, like tuberculosis, that were thought to have been eradicated, have been making a comeback in the United States, carried here by (largely illegal Hispanic) immigrants from countries with inadequate health care. (Whittier College, desperately seeking to avoid penalties for defrauding the federal Hispanic-Serving Institutions program of millions of dollars over the past decade, has suddenly increased Latino enrollment - not by enough to avoid a lawsuit for defrauding the H-S I program, but enough to make Caucasians a minority on campus while endangering the health of all students.)

"...if we're trying to be a college that teaches personal responsibility...there has to be accountability as well" and "If you don't make anyone accountable...if you don't have any consequence, then you're going to have repeat behavior," Singluff pointed out. After explaining that Dean of Students Jeanne Orftiz's suggestion that incoming students be given vaccinations on campus - without their medical records - is dangerous as well as ignorant, Singluff said, "If that was this year, I don't know [how] next year will look..." and concluded, "It's kind of frightening."

Shelley Converse-Rath reported in her article 'Students dissatisfied with changes to Student Health' that under the PIH deal test results from physicians outside the on campus Health Service, including family physicians, are no longer accepted. Testing must be done again at the Health Center, increasing costs to students and delaying provision of medications, treatments, and birth control. One can only think that Whittier College will share in increased Health Services income - due to the PIH health business model supplanting a model of health care that put student care at the top of the priority list while keeping costs low. No doubt the Health Center will soon be offering massages and hawking sex aids, for which 'services' students will pay after being enticed to avail themselves of them.

All the students interviewed by Converse-Rath complained about the new PIH operation of the Health Center, and expressed the sentiment that the resignations of Colleen Leidy, Dr. Stimmler and the doctors who worked under him, and of Barbara Singluff, were, as one student articulated the debacle, "a tragic loss."

Singluff, seeing that President Herzberger and the Trustees, numerous of whom, past and present, have relationships with PIH that should have caused them to recuse themselves from this decision, and the intervention of dangerously ignorant administrators like Jeanne Ortiz, were likely to escape accountability for this debacle absent an unexpected development, made a plea to students to stand up for themselves: "...students...all have a voice. ...this college (allegedly) fosters independent thinking and asking for what you need and using your power in numbers. ...students deserve the best of what everyone who works here has to offer. I think...students shouldn't accept anything less."

Meanwhile, some things remain the same. In her Quaker Campus Opinion (11-05-09) Nicole Kuykendall complained, "In the weeks since fall has settled in, an epidemic has settled in, coughing spells and sneezes of all kinds have filled our halls, infected our classrooms and turned what was once a peaceful learning environment into a disease-ridden nightmare." The packing of students into every crevice it can represent as a room like sardines in a tin is certainly a contributing factor in these campus plagues, but, again, benefits Whittier College's bottom line, as usual at its students' expense, health, and safety. A Quaker Campus headline announced the arrival of Swine Flu on the Whittier College campus this academic year, not surprisingly given the College's history of annual plagues even before this campus health care crisis.

PIH operation of campus Health Services is costing students more for less, more unnecessary services and lower quality care, greater expense for less personalized, less efficient and certain care, is a deal that only benefits PIH, and those Whittier College decision-makers whose relationships with PIH are more important to them than their responsibilities for Whittier College, first and foremost for the College's students. Among past or present Whittier College Trustees with relationships with PIH and/or the PIH Foundation or PIH Auxillary, including dual PIH - Whittier College board membership, are Ruth B. Shannon, Donald E. 'Bill' Wood, Herman L. Perry, Hubert C. Perry, Allan Nakken, and Joan M. Woehmann.

Additionally, the law firm Bewley, Lassleben & Miller, formerly Bewley & Nixon, with whom Whittier College Trustee and Attorney Ernie Z. Park is associated, also represents PIH. William M. Lassleben, Jr. is on the PIH Board of Directors, and Bewley, Lassleben & Miller attorney David Brady co-chairs the annual PIH Foundation golf event fundraiser.

Even former campus Health Center lead physician William H. Stimmler, M.D. is an officer on the PIH Board and President of Intercommunity Health Associates. And this is doubtlessly not the full extent of conflicts of interest in this matter; the conflicts cited here were discovered in a single preliminary investigation. More to follow here... unless Quaker Campus gets back on the clock on this issue for its fellow student readers, uncovers the whole story of this student health care debacle so that students can act in their own best interest, which the College has done the opposite of in this matter. Instead of parroting the administration's pitch for new services offered by the PIH health business model now holding sway on campus, student journalists should be doing their job. Oh, PIH is going to give students the business, alright.

Just when you think there just aren't any more ways for non-profit Whittier College to make even less of itself as it relentlessly seeks to maximize profits...


Continuing the Health Center's downward spiral under PIH, it was recently announced that walk-ins will be strictly limited to Monday mornings, and only then because the Health Center continues to be closed on weekends. From the student point of view, Whittier College health care is indeed very quickly moving down the road of less for more, and has already passed the point at which student health is seriously endangered.

Now, in addition to student body health care deteriorating, mental health care is disappearing... This comes at a time of dorm overcrowding, problems getting into needed classes, increasing class sizes and library and study space problems, all in the context of a continuing recession and rising tuition, have lead to a spike in despondence, suicidal thoughts, alcohol and drug emergencies, and violence, in the need for counseling.

The Counseling Center is now referring students to "outside organizations" for counseling, but students aren't being successful in finding counseling off-campus, and this is known, yet nothing more is done. Two things seem certain in this regard: failing to care for students will result in students doing harm to themselves and to others, and this school needs counseling - because Whittier College is harming itself and others.

2010-2011 Update

The Student Health Service has been renamed the Student Health and Wellness Center, but this is just lipstick on the ever more voracious pig that Whittier College generally and its health service particularly has become. This College's Health Service by any name not only still can't provide treatment for any viral illness, like the gastroenteritis outbreak on campus this winter, it couldn't even be bothered with getting out an effective email to the campus community to at least contain the outbreak (gastroenteritis symptoms include headaches, fever, chills, watery diarrhea, and vomiting among others). Many students became violently ill, and at least one student couldn't stop vomiting, became dehydrated, passed out in a public bathroom, and had to be taken to hospital. Gastroenteritis is spread by contact, which is facilitated in crowded conditions, like those caused at Whittier College by overenrollment/overcrowding, and President Sharon Herzberger has said repeatedly that this school's tuition-driven and that its plan is to recruit hundreds more students - without any new residential construction.

At the same time, students are being enticed to avail themselves of new and unnecessary services, including facials and massages (just as whittiergate predicted last year), and if a student doesn't have money to pay for these luxuries they're encouraged to charge the costs! What happened to teaching personal and fiscal responsibility, especially in this recession during which debt has proven catastrophic for so many families and a hardship for most?! (Relevant tips for students: If you're stressed, maybe getting a little acne, try relaxing, enjoying some decent food and drink, like food not loaded with grease and water, and wash at least your face. And if you can't get a massage from a fellow student, stop being an ass****.)
A new so-called 'Healthmart' has also been opened, which offers 'toiletries' (shampoo, toothpaste, chapstick, cosmetic applicator sponges, etc.), items sold by campus-adjacent businesses already serving students. While Whittier College depends on a positive relationship with the larger Whittier community for the safety and meeting the needs of students, this administration progressively undermines and alienates that community at every greedy turn. But such common sense concerns have been thrown overboard along with student health by a PIH business plan that seeks to extract as much money as possible from those they claim to 'serve'.

And while student health care continues to decline - past the point where students really are endangered - Whittier College is busy funneling money and benefits to PIH instead of maintaining let alone improving student health services or the college in general. The most recent examples of this are Whittier College spending money from a NEA (National Endowment for the Arts) grant to the Shannon Center to hire the Felci Piano Trio (piano, violin and cello) of Mammoth, California, to perform at PIH for a handful of people. While whittiergate isn't going to quibble about the number of people served or uplifted, this site states the obvious when we say this is an inappropriate use of this NEA grant in part or at all. Contrary to this school's Trustees' and administrators' conflict of interest-tainted view, Whittier College is not a cash cow to be milked by PIH. Violations of grant guidelines is ill-advised in the extreme... And this College's Music Department could have done the same thing gratis. All the talk about involving students and faculty in community service and then this?

And Whittier College's 'Whittier Leadership Breakfast' was held this year at PIH's Flo and Frank L. Scott Conference Center. Is this administration claiming that there are no adequate facilities on campus to host this event, which would also bring community members on campus for a positive interaction with this college community? (Or, given the nature of Whittier College's notion of 'leadership', perhaps this event should simply be dropped...)

Leadership that makes sense - not only short-term profit - leadership that role models the citizenship to which we (should) aspire, of which we can be justly proud, is desperately needed at corrupt and corrupting Whittier College.

Whittier Student Dies of H1N1 Virus Complications

On March 24, 2011, Whittier College sophomore Melanie Sorensen died in hospital of H1N1 Virus complications (pneumonia). RIP.

Whittier College, how many more hospitalizations and deaths have to happen before this College restores the Student Health service to its mission to serve, rather than exploit, students?

How Many Whittier College And/Or Whittier Subcontractor On Campus Employees Does It Take To Get Some Benadryl ?

In mid-October (2012), at around 1 PM on a Friday, a Whittier student called Campus Safety, explained that she was having an allergic reaction and needed some Benadryl, and pointed out that there was a note on the Health & Wellness Center door stating that the Center was closed.

Campus Safety tried to reach Health Center staff, Dean of Students Jeanne Ortiz, Assistant Dean of Students Andre Coleman, and Residential Life Director Della Hudson. Andre Coleman was reached via his cell phone, and recommended Campus Safety purchase some Benadryl for the student. However, Campus Safety had an officer sit with the student while her breathing became more and more labored, while a search for Health & Wellness Center employees was conducted.

By the time a Health & Wellness Center nurse finally arrived on the scene, the student had to be transported to Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital (PIH). Benadryl is an over the counter medication, its purchase requires no prescription.

As a Quaker Campus Opinion recently advised Whittier students, after crimes like the strong-arm robbery and attempted carjacking of a male Whittier Lacrosse goalkeeper in the Shannon Center- and Campus Safety-adjacent parking lot, "...when the darkness of Whittier suddenly makes its presence known on campus..", rather than calling Campus Safety, calling the "Whittier P D is the way to go", so it now seems that even when medical help needed is so simple as getting some Benadryl, getting an over the counter medication from the closest off campus drug store, rather than from the on campus Health & Wellness Center or with Campus Safety's help, is the way to go.

Like the male student assaulted and robbed on campus, this female student, also no thanks to campus employees, is still with us. How Many Whittier College And/Or Whittier Subcontractor On Campus Employees Does It Take To Get Some Benadryl ?