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Nov

14

Back-Of-The-Envelope Assumptions About How Long You Will Wait To See A Doctor At Columbia Health

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Herbal remedies and over-the-counter drugs: or, the solution to your health problems.

Herbal remedies and over-the-counter drugs: or, the solution to your health problems.

Today’s college students may be youthful, physically fit, wildly intelligent, extracurricularly engaged, and former “leaders” of their high schools, but they’re not actually superhuman–they, too, are subject to illnesses, injuries, viruses, diseases, and unwanted pregnancies. Bwogger Rachel Deal investigates just how easy it is to make appointments at Columbia Health, a *potential* cure for these myriad bodily dilemmas.

B-of-the-E Assumptions

  • Assuming you’re actually sick: appointments at Columbia Health for the following day are available at 9:30pm on the website. You’ll probably forget about this, though, and have to settle for a drop-in appointment.
  • Assuming you’re seeking some other kind of health care, which the website deems “future medical visits”: despite there being a section on the website for said kinds of appointments (for things such as vaccinations and contraception), there are actually never any appointments on the website, so you’ll have to call in.
    • Assume that a lot of other people are trying to take advantage of the benefits of Columbia Student Healthcare (particularly first years who are no longer on their parents’ insurance–it’s now so easy to get birth control without your parents knowing!), so they’re also scheduling “future medical visits.” Let’s say 1/10 of the first years, so 212 students, and about 50 more randos, so 262.
  • Appointment lengths can vary from 15 to 45 minutes, so assume they’re each 30 minutes long.
  • Assume 70% of the appointments are released online the night before, 20% are designated for walk-ins, and the remaining 10% are set aside for other medical services.

“Calculations”

  • Columbia Health is open 8am-6:30pm Monday-Thursday, 8am-5:00pm on Fridays, and 10am to 3:30pm on Saturdays. Therefore, they’re open for a total of 56 hours and 30 minutes every week.
  • Columbia employs 25 physicians, nurses, and medical assistants in total.
  • 56.5 hours / .5 hours = 113 appointments per medical professional per week
    • 113 * 25 = 2825 total appointments per week
    • There are, approximately and on average, 329 regular appointments each day, 94 walk-ins, and 47 miscellaneous appointments. Realistically, we are probably over-estimating.
  • No matter the numbers we come up with, you’re going to wait at least 45 minutes (but probably longer) for a walk-in appointment, and the soonest available slot for your flu vaccination or birth control consultation is at least a month away.

Conclusions

  • You’re going to wait a long-ass time for a drop-in appointment, so bring homework–especially because the doctor you see is probably going to insist you’re fine and not write you a note excusing you from class.
  • You’re going to wait even longer for a “future medical visit”–hope you don’t catch the flu in the meantime! Remember, there are other ways to get vaccinated and get birth control in the city.

Sexy self-serve medicine via Shutterstock

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