SGA talks Tufts health center partnership


Courtesy of Will Palauskas

A spring 2020 Student Government Association meeting

By Frankie Rowley, Content Managing Editor

The Student Government Association discussed a new partnership that merges Emerson and Tufts Medical Center’s student healthcare resources at its Nov. 17 weekly student assembly meeting. 

The proposed partnership would allow the staff at Tufts adolescent and primary care clinics to serve as “preferred access clinicians” at the Emerson Center for Health and Wellness. That means that if an Emerson student were to need care the CHW couldn’t provide, they would go to one of the two Tufts clinics for treatment. Most students would be referred to Tuft’s adolescent care clinic, located on Washington Street, since their facilities cater to those 23 and under. 

“What we’re discussing with them is that the short term for the spring semester would contract with them to provide staff for the health center,” Vice President for Campus Life Jim Hoppe said in the meeting. “We would get access to what Tufts calls their primary care clinic and their adolescent Care Clinic…as part of this arrangement.”

CHW Director Jane Powers is set to retire at the end of the semester, ahead of the CHW’s merger with Emerson Counselling and Psychological Services, the college’s emotional and mental health center. The CHW will maintain its current staff, which consists of Elizabeth Avery, Laura Owen, Shakena Perry, and Elizabeth Walsh. 

Tufts Medical Center staff would be used to supplement any potential vacancies after the director position is filled. 

Hoppe didn’t specify whether the merger will come at a cost to the college, but said the college’s insurance will still be taken at the CHW. Students who are not on the college’s insurance will still have access to the CHW with no additional costs. 

“Any services that you would get at the [health center] that don’t come with any additional insurance or further a bill would stay in place,” Hoppe said. 

In regards to the new staff, Performing Arts Senator Chandler David, asked if they undergo bias training for helping patients who are transgender, disabled, and people of color. Tufts’ staff members undergo bias training, Hoppe responded.. 

“They assured me that they have high levels of training,” Hoppe said. “What they’ve indicated to me is that it’s a priority through the medical center. Given the populations that they serve in the city of Boston, that they’ve made it into that system, at higher levels of bias training, have awareness training, to be to make sure that they’re providing the best level of care for the communities in Boston.”

In Tuesday’s meeting, SGA also unanimously voted to appoint Emma Meiselwitz, a first-year Journalism student, to the executive board as Deputy Chief Justice. The Deputy Chief Justice is responsible for aiding the Chief Justice with overviewing the bylaws, interpreting the org’s constitution, overseeing elections, and helping with any other judicial proceedings. 

Chief Justice Lilly Meehan-Egan said in an interview with The Beacon she is excited to have a collaborator to work with, specifically on updating the current bylaws of the SGA constitution. 

The organization’s current bylaws contain outdated language surrounding the new financial equity committee, which is responsible for planning an annual financial town hall with the executive treasure and to help make Emerson more accessible to students of all financial backgrounds.  Much of the bylaws are lifted directly from former Executive Treasurer Abigail Semple’s proposal for a financial equity board. 

“I’m really looking forward to bouncing ideas off of her and… having someone else to look over your work just helps make it better,” Meehan-Egan said. “I’m really happy that she’s here…so we can collaborate.”

The organization did not hire a deputy chief justice during the 2019-20 academic year.