Oberlin Blogs

Healthcare in Oberlin

November 6, 2022

Charlize Villasenor ’23

If you’re anything like high school me, you might be a chronic over-worrier. Symptoms include: needing every detail to go as planned, making several back-up plans in case the first plan doesn’t work out, and staying up late on your phone researching what information you need until you get thumb cramps. Since then, I’ve learned to go with the flow because life will show you that you can’t control everything. Regardless, I will say that if I had the medical worries at 17 that I do now, I would be even more stressed about college applications. I know some people have had chronic illnesses, disabilities, or conditions that make choosing a college extra nerve-wrecking. I didn’t have many health concerns until about two years ago, so I’ve learned about my healthcare options through trial and error. Since it’s not a topic that many people talk about, today I’ll be describing my experience with healthcare systems in and around Oberlin. 

A student’s first line of defense is usually Student Health Services on campus. It’s centrally located and about a 2-3 minute walk from Mudd Library, and overall free to students besides some testing or medicine. My interactions with them have been generally positive. Typically I visit the Student Health Center for cold kits, authorization for some prescription refills, or to get an initial opinion on an ailment before I escalate my worry. At Student Health, cold kits are small bags that have a few supplies to help someone recover in the comfort of their own room. Usually they have decongestants, fever reducers, pain killers, cough drops, disposable thermometers, a tea bag, and a bouillon cube to make some chicken broth. This (and a few days of rest while drinking plenty of fluids) is typically enough to get through seasonal colds or allergies. I’ve fallen and hurt my thumb before so although I couldn’t get an x-ray at the Student Health Center, I was given a referral for the imaging services at Mercy Allen Hospital (about a 10-minute walk away). When my inhaler expired, I made an appointment to get a new prescription written and it went pretty smoothly. Although I’m unsure if these services are connected to Student Health, Oberlin hosts COVID-19 booster shot and flu shot clinics, and provides at home COVID-19 tests for students to receive them on campus at a convenient location. There are some limitations to the services that Student Health can provide because it’s not a full-blown hospital, but some minor concerns can be taken care of here. 

If your needs cannot be satisfied at Student Health, the next line of defense is usually Mercy Allen Memorial Hospital. This hospital is attached to Mercy Health Primary Care, so regular check-ups, imaging, and blood work or urine testing can be done here. If you’re concerned about a more serious illness or injury, this is likely where you will be referred because it’s located close to campus (about a five- to ten-minute walk from the Science Center or Wilder Hall). I have seen an orthopedic surgeon and a primary care provider here, as well as done x-rays and blood work. Sometimes scheduling an appointment can take a bit longer for specialists when trying to accommodate for class times and prior commitments for both parties (mine was scheduled about three weeks out), but that’s fairly normal in most places. Mercy Health and Cleveland Clinic (which I will talk about shortly) both offer a virtual platform called MyChart—which can be used on a web browser or as an app—for patients to access their doctors’ notes, make appointments, see test results, and more. It’s especially convenient to message providers and receive information from them without having to directly call their office during operating hours. 

If your needs go past what Mercy Health can offer (or if you simply have a preference) there are two other popular hospital groups in the area: Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals. I have yet to interact with University Hospitals, but distance-wise its offices are comparable to Cleveland Clinic locations with the closest being in Elyria, OH about 15-20 minutes away. Cleveland Clinic has locations all across Northeast Ohio but its main campus is located in Cleveland, about a 45-55 minute drive from Oberlin. Cleveland Clinic is one of the most esteemed hospital groups in the world (I mean… they have a location in Abu Dhabi…) and I love having my appointments with them. Though its main campus is a bit far, there are other locations closer to campus that will likely be able to treat your ailments as needed. There are some specialists that can only be seen at its main campus, which is a bit rough on the wallet if you have to take Ubers to get there, but if you know how to drive, you have that going for you. When I visit, I take a walk to University Circle or Little Italy in Cleveland afterwards and enjoy my afternoon before heading home so I can feel like I had a productive day. 

In terms of pharmacy you have a few options in town, but one will likely be more convenient when considering where on campus you’ll live. For the last few years I’d gone to CVS—it was a 20-minute walk and I would pass a McDonalds on the way so I didn’t mind the walk. The Oberlin CVS is located south of downtown Oberlin and this is where many students fill their prescription. Since the beginning of the pandemic they have also begun to mail out prescriptions, so you can get prescriptions sent to the mailroom for an extra $5 if the walk is too far for you. Going further south, you’ll find Walmart. It’s not much of a walking distance (unless you really like to walk or just live nearby) but for some people it works great if they have a car or need to do some shopping as well. Personally, I don’t use either of these pharmacies currently because I live pretty far north on campus. Now, I go to DrugMart—a discount grocery store with a pharmacy inside. The walk from my apartment is about 20 minutes, but it’s on a calm road and closer than my other two options (unless I get my medication mailed). 

Overall, you have a handful of options when it comes to healthcare in and around Oberlin. While no single option might be the best choice every time, having options makes a difference in quality of care and allows students to receive the healthcare they need. If you have any questions about healthcare in Oberlin or are curious about another aspect of student life, let me know and I’ll be sure to get back to you as soon as possible! 

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