Student Experiences Raise Questions About Vassar’s Medical Care

Image by Isabel Marvel
TW: Self harm
Disclaimer: While this article may contain off-putting information about Baldwin’s medical services, we want to emphasize that students shouldn’t hesitate to seek medical treatment when needed, whether it’s an emergency or not. You can reach Baldwin at (845) 437-5800, or for life-threatening emergencies on-campus, you should call (845) 437-7333.
Written by editor Jakob Eckstein , Guest reporting by Omri Bareket

This article consists of 61 accounts, by current and former Vassar students, of their experiences receiving medical care at Baldwin health services. These accounts were collected anonymously through an online survey on Facebook accessible only to students with a Vassar email account. The survey was published on February 5th and is still open, though no additional responses have been submitted since March 25th. The survey generated 66 accounts, but four have been omitted because they pertain to counseling services and not medical services. The medical visits described in these accounts all took place between October 2014 and March 2017. We present them in chronological order, and with tags denoting their content.

The tags include:

  1. Positive review
  2. Women’s health
  3. Misdiagnoses
  4. Wrong prescription
  5. Billing problem
  6. inappropriate behavior and/or negligence
  7. Procedural incompetence
  8. Late or denied health advisory
  9. Insensitivity toward mental health issues

Our intentions in publishing these accounts are not to simply “call out” Vassar’s medical staff, who undoubtedly work hard to treat students, but to call attention to an imperfect system. We have chosen to redact the names in this article to reflect the fact that these problems are not only about individuals, but Vassar’s medical resources—or lack thereof. Admittedly, these accounts cannot be verified because of the need for anonymity within a small community and the inaccessibility of medical records. However, we feel that these anecdotes remain relevant testament to the change that needs to be made.

As these accounts suggest, some students have been subjected to a range of mistreatments and unacceptable risks since October 2014. We feel it is our responsibility to bring attention to these incidents in order to spur efforts to prevent such incidents in the future. It should be noted that Baldwin health services does not seem to be understaffed. Vassar employs roughly the same number of medical professionals as other colleges with similar student populations. There are 2,450 students at Vassar, and according to the Vassar College Employee Directory, the college employs one medical doctor, two physicians assistants and five nurses, a total of nine medical professionals. Middlebury College, with 2,450 students, also employs nine. Skidmore College, with 2,300 students, employs 13. Colgate University, with 2,827 students, employs nine. Union College, with 2,242 students, employs nine.

However, these accounts do suggest that far too many students feel unsatisfied or even unsettled by their experiences at Baldwin health services. Vassar students are often forced to wait multiple days to get appointments, sometimes for serious ailments, and the Baldwin health services staff appears to frequently mistreat students.

Finally, students report being subjected to brusque, even rude treatment when scheduling appointments or inquiring about Baldwin health services’ protocols. These issues have lead to a general mistrust for Vassar’s health services among the student body. What’s most troubling, is that the following accounts suggest that some students are reluctant to seek medical help at Baldwin health services.

Boilerplate reached out to Dr. Balawajder, the M.D employed by Vassar, who declined to comment. Instead, she forwarded our request to Vassar’s director of media relations, Amanita Duga-Carroll, who submitted this statement on behalf of the college:

Students’ well-being is the top priority for the members of Vassar’s Health Service department. Our team handles more than 8,000 patient visits a year, and strives to provide the highest level of care possible. We recognize that being ill or injured is a stressful time and it is our goal to assist students during those times of need. It is our goal to provide easily accessible, high quality healthcare to the members of the Vassar community, and we welcome any feedback that helps us continue to attain that.

We at Boilerplate are glad the Vassar administration welcomes the following feedback, expressed by students themselves, and we hope this article encourages steps to be taken to improve the accessibility and quality of healthcare on campus.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Date N/A

Tags: positive review

I’ve never had an experience at Baldwin because I haven’t once gone to Baldwin. People’s shitty stories about their experiences at Baldwin have deterred me from going whenever I’m sick.

 

Date N/A

Tags: positive review

Idk, I kinda like Baldwin.

 

Date N/A

Tags: positive review

I graduated in May 2016, and I probably went to Baldwin 4 or 5 times during my four years at Vassar. This might be an unpopular opinion but I never had a problem with Baldwin, they were always very professional and diagnosed me accurately each time I went. No complaints. I wish Vassar kids would stop whining about the amazing services they are offered by the school and take some responsibility for themselves occasionally.

 

April 2014

Tags: positive review

I actually had a pretty good experience there. I had food poisoning and they took me to a private room with a bathroom attached and let me stay there until the bulk of my symptoms passed. I was living in a hall with a shared bathroom at the time and that would have been awful to deal with myself. I know it’s not a good example of diagnostic work but I do believe their heart is in the right place.

 

October 2014

Tags: inappropriate behavior and/or negligence

I went in to get a rash on my HANDS and FEET checked out, & the doc seeing me aggressively questioned me about my sex life even after I insisted that I hadn’t had unprotected sex, under the assumption that somehow I had…hand/foot..herpes? syphilis? what the fuck.

 

October 2014

Tags: misdiagnosis, inappropriate behavior and/or negligence, procedural incompetence

I went to Baldwin on a weekend to figure out what was going on. My throat felt terrible, couldn’t sleep, classic Vassar bug. Someone did a strep test, and it came back negative on the spot. I didn’t receive much sympathy, but I went back to my room with a basic prescription, 2 days of health advisory, and figured I would tough it out. Within the week, my throat swells to the point that I cannot eat or talk, never mind swallow solid food. I’m surviving on UpC smoothies and sorbet. I’m going to class, making it work until I’m getting dressed one morning and I just fall over. I’m dizzy, definitely feverish–whatever Baldwin gave me wasn’t enough. I call my father who, like a saint, leaves work and comes to get me from Jersey. He basically has to pack my bag for me and carry me down the stairs. Despite the fever, I had my seat warmers on and I’m shivering. Two nights later, after hallucinations and coughing up blood, I’m in the hospital with an IV drip of fluids and steroids that I desperately needed. The ER doctor is shocked that I didn’t receive better care from “a school like Vassar” and calls Baldwin, but they do not answer. It turns out that I had strep throat, bronchitis, and mononucleosis, all things he said should have been at least somewhat apparent visually (especially the strep) to trained medical staff, and would have positively shown up on the test done earlier that week. The doctor soberly told me that if the swelling in my throat did not go down within a few hours, they would need to think about removing my tonsils. After two weeks, I was back on campus with permanent scarring on my tonsils, and went for my “mono checkup” at Baldwin who didn’t seem surprised or to care that the weekend nurse had screwed up the diagnosis so badly. She asked if I still wanted health advisory, and told me to take it easy. Sure. I haven’t been back since.

 

October 2014

Tags: wrong prescription

Had repeated UTIs and was given an antibiotic after each one of them. Finally I was given an antibiotic to take every time after sex in order to prevent an UTI. I was reassured that this would in no way result in antibiotic resistance. Two months later I got another UTI and GUESS WHAT! I was now resistant to that antibiotic. Never trusted them after that.

 

February 2015

Tags: inappropriate behavior and/or negligence, procedural incompetence, insensitivity toward mental health issues

I was suffering from a concussion, which any doctor or PA should know is pretty traumatic – it makes you prone to mood swings and depression, among other things. I felt like my experience was completely trivialized. Even though I had a confirmed injury, the PA continued to question me and make me doubt myself – at a time when I was already confused and emotional because of literal brain trauma. Anyone who deals with any emotional/mental/whatever condition should know how to be sympathetic.

 

March 2015

Tags: wrong prescription, procedural incompetence

I went in with a sore throat, got diagnosed with strep after a swab came back from testing. Even though they had my medical information, including allergy info, they let me walk out the door with antibiotics I was allergic to. I was lucky to have a roommate who recommended googling anything they gave me…

 

March 2015

Tags: women’s health, misdiagnosis, inappropriate behavior and/or negligence

My list of complaints about Baldwin could fill a fucking tome, but if I had to pick a worst moment it would probably be when they tested me for mono, and mis-tested me as negative. I did have mono, very seriously, didn’t know I had to stop drinking (my poor liver) and had a rough academic semester with no excuses or health advisory. They did, though, catch that I had Hep A (a symptom of mono) and proceeded to ask me culturally insensitive questions about my whereabouts and proximity to Mexico, fecal matter, and the like. If you’re looking for something more comedic; there was the time I was told I had a cute uterus during a pelvic exam.

 

April 2015

Tags: misdiagnosis, wrong prescription, late or denied health advisory

Went to Baldwin with a terrible fever, sore throat, stuffy nose, and cough. Wasn’t diagnosed with anything but a cold. Wasn’t given health advisory despite asking for it and having a high fever. Was given a Z-pack for this mystery sickness that I had. Which didn’t work.

 

September 2015

Tags: positive review

They did a pretty good job when I had severe back pain (caused by a car accident). I got good care for the limited amount of resources they had there. Then they referred me elsewhere after doing all they could. They did what the could for me!

 

October 2015

Tags: positive review

I don’t know how great the general services are at Baldwin because my experiences there are minimal, however I’ve had extremely positive experiences with the Women’s Health division on the second floor. I’ve gone there for birth control, annual exams and even a pregnancy scare once. Each time I felt it was a very professional and comforting atmosphere with an impressive amount to offer. I think more people should take advantage of the Women’s Health Services.

 

October 2015

Tags: misdiagnosis, wrong prescription, late or denied health advisory

I went to Baldwin because I had been running a fever and didn’t feel well. I explain that I had been up all night shivering and sweating with a high fever and was worried that I was really sick. They gave me one packet of Advil Cold, no health advisory, and told me I’d be fine. It turned out that I had bronchitis and laryngitis, and had to go home for a week because I was too weak to move, and too delirious. I ended up being on a heavy dosage of antibiotics for two and a half weeks, and it took me a few weeks after to gain any strength back.

 

November 2015

Tags: misdiagnosis, wrong prescription

*went to Baldwin thinking I have a UTI*
*they say maybe and give me antibiotics*
*comes back a week later to get results*
“You definitely have a UTI so its
good you took the meds for the last week.” *continues to go on whole thing about me having UTI and why*
“There were two people that came with in with UTI this week and only one came back positive. That was you but let me go get the paperwork”
*20 mins later*
“Oh no the other person had the UTI. Ur negative. Ur free to go”

 

February 2016

Tags: misdiagnosis, procedural incompetence

About a year ago, I went to Baldwin because both of my ears were fairly clogged. This happens to me often, and I need them to be cleaned out ASAP before they get infected. Overall, the process should be pretty quick and simple. At my first visit, I was given Debrox, wax-softening drops from a nurse, and she attempted to flush out my ears with tons of water. She had a very difficult time doing this pretty basic nursing procedure, and after pouring tons of cold water down my ear canals, she gave up and told me to use the Debrox. However, because she didn’t actually clean out my ears, all of the water and drops made the problem get worse. My ears hurt horribly down to my jaw, and I couldn’t hear out of either ear. I came back, and they gave me one of the doctors, Ddddddd. Ddddddd realized my ears were infected and prescribed me more drops and some Advil Cold and Sinus to fix the problem. Mind you, my ears were fully clogged to the point that I could barely hear. I tried this for a couple days, and nothing changed. At this point, I had infected ears and could not hear for 5 days. I went back to Baldwin, told Ddddddd that I was starting to have pain below my ears in my jaw, and he proceeded to search on some website akin to WebMD about what might be causing the pain (I don’t know…maybe the infection and wax built up in my ears?). He wondered if I had some sort of dangerous infection in my jaw bone based on what he had read. This doctor literally WebMD’d me and came up with some crazy, over-the-top scenario about what could be wrong with me. I requested that he refer me to an Ear Nose and Throat doctor. After a half hour of calling ENTs in the area to find one that took my insurance, I found one and got an appointment for the next day. The ENT took one look at my years, cleaned them out instantly with the appropriate equipment, and gave me drops for the infection that got my ears back to normal within 2 days. After 5 days of improper care from Baldwin, giving me an ear infection and leaving me in terrible pain and unable to hear, a qualified doctor fixed my problem within minutes. This is my most severe experience being mistreated by Baldwin, but it is one of many times I have felt that the nurses and doctors there had no idea what they were doing and were making it up as they went along. Rather than saying they aren’t sure, owning up to their gaps in knowledge, and referring students to outside doctors who actually know what they’re doing, the nurses and doctors at Baldwin make harmful, snap decisions that worsen students’ conditions and leave them sick longer than necessary.

 

February 2016

Tags: women’s health, misdiagnosis

I was having intense waves of pain – to the point of leaving class to vomit – associated with a change in birth control and wanted to make sure everything was alright. Women’s health not only made me feel extremely violated over the course of several evaluations done by multiple people, but then also sent me to the hospital using words like ‘ectopic pregnancy’ and leading me to believe that surgery was almost definite (where I spent 9 hours waiting, having an invasive ultrasound, and finding out I was perfectly okay and didn’t have any out of the ordinary symptoms considering the type of birth control I had switched to). I don’t think it’s fair to submit me to such emotional upheaval based on Baldwin’s incompetence and fear of liability.

 

March 2016

Tags: misdiagnosis, wrong prescription

I developed a weird spot on my arm that was, for lack of a better term, “festering.” Went to Baldwin, and they’re like, oh shit! I think you have psoriasis! So of course I’m like, oh shit doctor, I must have psoriasis! Except for that when I googled psoriasis, I found out that it is a chronic condition that covers patches all over the body, and that it looked nothing like what was on my arm. I pointed this out to my quasi-doctor, who was like oh shit, you don’t have psoriasis, and gave me both an antibacterial cream. Didn’t work, went to the real doctor, turns out I had ringworm and it is excessively common and treatable. Live, laugh, love.

 

April 2016

Tags: misdiagnosis, inappropriate behavior and/or negligence, procedural incompetence

I went to Baldwin after having sufficient numbness and tingling in my right hand. Being diabetic, I was worried that it might have had something to do with the diabetes. So, I went to Baldwin and had an appointment with Ddddddd. I thought that he might have had some new insights that I did not have access to, especially because of his experience in the field.

Well, I finally made it to Baldwin three days after I initially called because it was the only time they could “squeeze me in”. Upon arrival, I sat in the waiting room for 35 minutes–I guess that it to be expected at any “doctor’s” office (if you can really call Baldwin that…)
Anyway, after I get called back, I told Ddddddd the entire story. I told him how the numbness has been present for about a week. How sometimes it happened in my left hand as well. Gave him the entire rundown of the history of my diabetes.
He stood there for a minute, thinking. To myself, I thought, finally, I’m going to be getting some good, solid answers. (Also, one night about three days before I went to Baldwin –the night before I made the appointment– I was solidly considering going to the hospital because I was so concerned. Just keep that in mind.)
After about 5 minutes of Ddddddd contemplating of what he should say, his response to my numbness was this: “you know, (insert my name here), it’s April and cold outside. Maybe you should consider wearing gloves when you go outside. That’ll help the numbness and tingling go down.”
I was flabbergasted. I had no idea what to say. So, I said thank you and left.
After this experience, I called a former ER doctor that is a close family friend. She told me that what Ddddddd said was completely ridiculous and un-called for. She and I spoke for the next 3-ish weeks about the numbness and what the cause might be. She, living on the other side of the country, was more help than Ddddddd. Honestly, after this experience, I cannot and will not go to Baldwin for anything because Ddddddd has made himself a name for himself as a complete fool.

 

April 2016

Tags: women’s health, misdiagnosis, insensitivity toward mental health issues

(tw: self harm) I had a painful UTI and had no choice but to go to Baldwin even though I was covered in fresh self harm marks. They also convinced me to test for STIs. While taking my blood pressure, the marks were clearly visible and there wasn’t anything I could do about it. The nurse grilled me and made me show her my arms, neck, and chest. I understood her concern but told her I was seeing an off campus therapist regularly. After testing for STIs, she told me that she would only call me if the tests were positive. A week later, I got a call telling me to come in right away and I was freaking out. I show up to Baldwin and the same nurse tells me the tests were actually negative. She told me she called me back to make sure I didn’t cut myself again. She asked me to TAKE OFF MY SHIRT. She had LIED ABOUT ME HAVING A POSITIVE STI TEST TO MAKE ME PULL OF MY SHIRT TO LOOK AT MY SELF HARM MARKS. I was utterly appalled at her unprofessionalism, lying, and inability to properly handle mental issues/illness. At least refer me to Metcalf, instead of demanding I take off my shirt, making me feel violated and embarrassed. Someone please tell the health care professionals at Baldwin how to deal with mental issues/illness.

April 2016

 

Tags: procedural incompetence

 

I went to Baldwin thinking that I had mono. They asked me if I played any sports and I told them that I didn’t. They said that, because I didn’t play sports, I shouldn’t be tested for mono and that it didn’t matter whether or not I knew if I had it. As a sexually active person who drinks alcohol, it is extremely important that I know whether or not I have mono.

 

September 2016

Tags: women’s health, misdiagnosis

I went to the Baldwin gynecologist to address some symptoms I had been experiencing after getting an IUD in August. The Dr. told me that everything was fine, even though I was sure it wasn’t and kept pressing her. I suggested that I might have a bacterial overgrowth (I had read about it online), to which she said something to the affect of, “it doesn’t really seem like it.”
This January, I visited my gynecologist at home and was informed that, just as I suspected, I’ve had a bacterial overgrowth for months. It was pretty easy to deal with–just had to take antibiotics twice daily for a week. However, I am very frustrated that I was given misinformation at Baldwin that resulted in my medical problem going untreated for 4 months. I have a right to better treatment than that.

 

September 2016

Tags: women’s health, misdiagnosis, inappropriate behavior and/or negligence

I’m on Vassar health insurance, and as a low income student, it’s not very feasible for me to go to a practitioner outside of Baldwin without a referral. I was going specifically to the Women’s health center, seeing Ddddddd (the Ddddddd at Baldwin).

I was having inter-menstrual bleeding that was having me a little concerned because I’m normally very regular with my cycle, and I pay close attention to the rhythms of my body. I love having my period- it’s a time of empowerment and reflection for me, where I can take some time for myself to go inward and listen to my body. My creativity and imagination is heightened. Granted, it hasn’t always been this way- I’ve worked a lot to overcome the shame that society ingrains in our notion of having periods.

Also, I’ve known many women who have had severe health problems related to taking the birth control pill, some of whom have been my family. Someone very close to me had a stroke right before she was about to get married. She was amazingly healthy, and even the doctors said it was years of taking the pill that caused it. Now, she’s half-paralyzed and in a wheel chair. My great-aunt had breast cancer connected to taking the pill. My aunt and step mom both seriously wanted to have children but were infertile, not due to taking the pill, though witnessing their struggles made me realize how much of a gift it is to have a fertile, healthy womb.

When I went in to see Ddddddd, she asked me if I was sexually active. Yes, I said, I have a monogamous partnership with a man. She asked if I used birth control. No, but we use caution and pull out. She replies, “You know what they call people who pull out? Pregnant.”
Honestly, I was shocked. I wasn’t going in there to get lectured about safe sex, or even asking to be on birth control! I wanted to know why I was bleeding in between my periods.

(Since I’m super attentive to my cycle, I know when I’m ovulating, and so I’m aware when I’m fertile and shouldn’t be having sex. We are not properly educated as to how female bodies work. It’s actually pretty hard to get pregnant! An egg is only available for a day, and sperm can live in a womb for a few days. So there’s a period of about 5 days to be extra cautious. Other than that, pull-out sex is pretty damn effective.)

I tell her that I do not want to be on birth control, and that I have family history that shows adverse effects to the pill. She goes on to try to persuade me to be on the pill, saying that it’s actually healthier for women to give their ovaries a break. Referencing what she called “cave man biology”, she said women are actually supposed to pregnant all the time, so our ovaries

aren’t used to releasing hormones to shed our uterus lining once a month. After talking to another OBGYN I ran into, I’ve learned this is nonsense.

I needed to get an ultrasound of my ovaries, eventually learning I had an ovarian cyst. Ddddddd‘s only solution was birth control. I was determined to find another way to regulate my hormonal imbalance rather than introduce new ones to my system. After four appointments of being adamantly persuaded to be on birth control by her, I finally let her prescribe it to me and never picked it up at the pharmacy. I found an herb- chaste berry- that helps regulate female hormones- started taking the supplement, and haven’t bled in between my periods since.

I’m never going back to the women’s health center because it’s absolutely exhausting to be constantly persuaded to take something you’ve adamantly said “no” to several times.

 

September 2016

Tags: wrong prescription, inappropriate behavior and/or negligence, procedural incompetence

My doctor prescribed me the same unhelpful antacid twice, then upon my third visit asked if I “wanted more drugs or something.” He seemed to hardly listen as I described my symptoms, and he struck me as uninterested in exploring the health issues that led me to withdraw from school. The staff were blatantly uninterested in helping me understand how my visit would register with my insurance. I ended up with huge bills for routine procedures (standard blood tests). Most visits I felt a lack of care as an individual. I felt like another body being shuffled through their slapdash system.

 

September 2016

Tags: billing problem, inappropriate behavior and/or negligence, procedural incompetence

Lol. I was in my friend’s room and I was sliding around in socks when I got a splinter in my foot. Being the innocent and naive freshman that I was, I decided Baldwin would be a good remedy for the splinter.

When I got to Baldwin, I waited in the waiting room for 45 minutes (bad sign number 1). Then the nurse came out to take me back– her name, Ddddddd. She seemed distraught (I later found out that that is how she always acts and comes across). She spent about 30 minutes working on getting the splinter out of my foot before she gave up. We tried soaking the foot in hot water, using a very specific numbing cream, literally everything you can think of to loosen a foot up… but, to her, nothing was “working”.

So she gave up and called Ddddddd who seemed super pissed off. He did not say hello to me, but rather was addressing only Ddddddd in front of my face. He was very inappropriate. Then, without speaking to me once, he left the room, came back with a pair of tweezers, and pulled the thing out. Then, he said something to Ddddddd along the lines of, “that’s how it’s done,” and left.

I was thankful to be out of the office until I GOT A $45 BILL FROM BALDWIN saying that because of the “ointment” they used I owed the cost. I was appalled and will never go to Baldwin again. For anything. Ever.

 

October 2016

Tags: billing problem, procedural incompetence

I came over to Baldwin with a cut to my finger by my nail that was pretty annoying. It happened 2 days before I went over and I was taking care of it well, with Neosporin and bandaids. I went to Baldwin cause I was out of bandaids. Thankfully, they took me in pretty quickly but the person (doctor?) who saw me was very aloof and unsure of what she was doing. When she finally figured out that I needed a bandaid, she pulled out some generic Neosporin. I told her I don’t want any of that if it’ll cost me money. She said it won’t and applied some and put on a bandaid. All is fine, right? WRONG. Little did I know, I had a lovely charge of $25 for a tube of bacitracin that, 1) I didn’t receive a whole tube of, only a small amount was applied to my finger, 2) I was told wouldn’t cost me money and 3) should in no way cost $25. A Neosporin brand tube costs a fraction of that. From what I’ve heard, that place is lies galore!

 

October 2016

Tags: positive review

I’ve had generally good experiences at Baldwin. However, one time I waited an hour because an RN forgot she had an appointment with me and took a nap.

 

October 2016

Tags: inappropriate behavior and/or negligence

I came in on a Wednesday mid-afternoon (not sure when this was) and asked to see someone from the Women’s Health Services about a UTI. The lady at the desk said “They’re not open this Thursday.”
“…It’s Wednesday today”

“Oh it is far too late to expect to be able to see someone today!”
Throughout this exchange her tone ranged from brusque to downright condescending and judgmental. The staff at the desk always manage to make me feel very small, and like a waste of time and space. I have never gotten to the actual services inside, I always slink out after talking to the front desk. When you’re going to Baldwin, you probably already feel pretty bad, and this is just unnecessary. Why can’t the Baldwin people be as nice as, say, the librarians? You would expect campus health services to be there to help the students, but it always seems like we’re interrupting their day.

 

October 2016

Tags: misdiagnosis

I went to Baldwin because I thought I had strep throat, they tested me and it came back negative but they told me they were going to send the culture out to a lab but in the meantime I should take the antibiotics anyway so I did. Fast forward three days when Baldwin called me and told me my test came back negative and that I just had a virus and to stop taking the antibiotics. Luckily I have taken intro Bio and know you can’t safely just stop antibiotics, you have to finish the course once started to prevent superbugs.

 

October 2016

Tags: inappropriate behavior and/or negligence

Called and was treated extremely rudely by the receptionist who answered the phone. Was put on hold for over 8 minutes. Invalidated the urgency of my ailments.

 

October 2016

Tags: women’s health, misdiagnosis, procedural incompetence

Had to go to the women’s health center for multiple issues I was having. After 5 separate appointments and various expensive tests done I was not given an answer to any of my issues. Throughout the process mentions of cancer came up without any consoling toward me. I had to have so many different appointments because they couldn’t seem to handle more than one of my complaints at a time. One appointment for my yeast infection. One appointment for my breast pain and discharge. One appointment for my continual period. One appointment for switching birth control. One for each specific test follow up. Yet I had all these complaints at the first appointment I made. This took about 3 months in total.

 

October 2016

Tags: women’s health, procedural incompetence

I needed a refill for my birth control, which was prescribed by Baldwin a few months before because going home for summer break had messed up the refills. I already had the prescription from Baldwin and had a full checkup at Baldwin a month or so before, but they made me get a full pelvic exam and checkup before they could refill my prescription. Apparently it is Baldwins policy for birth control prescriptions, everyone who wants one has to get a pelvic exam. When a similar thing happened with my prescription later on in the same semester, I couldn’t just call in for a refill like a normal doctors office. I had to make another appointment and go through another checkup and it took 45 minutes for the OB/GYN to find the medicine and refill it even though it’s a prescription I have been on for over four years and was prescribed several times at Baldwin.

 

October 2016

Tags: positive review

Honestly I have more beef with Metcalf. I went to Baldwin on a Sunday because I thought I was having an asthma attack, because I couldn’t breathe and felt really scared. It turns out that I was having an anxiety attack. I had experienced this before, but had just assumed it was asthma. The Baldwin nurse who saw me was really, really nice and reassured me that everything was okay. She checked in with me and encouraged me to go to counseling at Metcalf. I had already been to a couple of counseling sessions at Metcalf, and went again after my intense anxiety attack. I stopped going after my third session because the counselor I saw made me feel very weird and didn’t help me at all or encourage me to come back. In contrast, the Baldwin nurse was more attentive to my needs than the Metcalf counselor.

 

October 2016

Tags: misdiagnosis, procedural incompetence

I came in to Baldwin because I was feeling nauseous. The night before, I had been studying at my desk when I suddenly felt very unwell. When I came into Baldwin, the first thing they suggested to me was pregnancy, but I told them that probably wasn’t the case because I think you have to have sex to get pregnant. Not an expert, but I’m sure that’s how it works. But they did a pregnancy test anyway, and when it came back negative, they tested me for a UTI. When that came back negative, they said they didn’t know what else could be causing nausea and sent me home.

 

October 2016

Tags: misdiagnosis, procedural incompetence

So a friend of mine discovered that she had lice. Naturally all of us who spent time with her wanted to see if we also had lice, checked each others’ heads and discovered that sure enough, we did. We went to Baldwin just to get a “professional” look and to see if they could give us lice treatments because they are pretty expensive. When a so-called “nurse” checked my head she told me, nope, I didn’t have lice. We didn’t believe her of course and bought treatments at Rite Aid and did basically everything ourselves. My mother (who is a health professional) was horrified that the people working at Baldwin couldn’t even recognize something as simple as head lice.

 

October 2016

Tags: procedural incompetence

For medical reasons I needed to have my blood drawn. The blood draw nurse laid me down on a bed and put in the needle. The needle then fell out of me onto the the bed as she was reaching for band-aids. Seeing that the needle had fallen out, rather than get a new needle and re-insert it, she picked up the fallen needle and stabbed it back into me. I mean stab, it was literally not in a vein. The vial took about ten minutes to semi-fill it, because it was not in a vein. I told her it wasn’t in properly, as it hurt a lot, and wasn’t filling, she told me it was filling slowly because I was just dehydrated. It should be noted that during all this, she had something dripping from the pocket of her white lab coat. I think a juice box, or something was leaking in it, either way, she didn’t seem to notice the yellow liquid seeping from her pocket.

 

October 2016

Tags: positive review

They actually provided me with really wonderful medical care. They were quick, efficient, and got the job done. Helped me get over a nasty stomach bug.

 

November 2016

Tags: misdiagnosis, billing problem, procedural incompetence

In the fall I got a staph infection in my leg and I didn’t know what it was, I just knew that I had a really gross thing on my leg. I called on Halloween, a Monday, to get an appointment at Baldwin since I had no idea why there was a dime sized hole in my leg and the receptionist promptly told me that I couldn’t get an appointment until Wednesday. To be fair, I played it down a little to them since I was freaking out and when I called them, I didn’t know that the infection had turned into this gross hole in my leg, though I should have been given an appointment that day. The rest of Monday and Tuesday go by and I’m in incredible pain in my leg. I don’t know if any of you have ever actually looked at the website for Baldwin, but they say specifically to not come in to the office without an appointment unless the it is life-threatening. I was unaware that staph infections could be life-threatening so I was sitting around waiting for my appointment with an incredibly infected leg. Wednesday comes around and I go see them. They were late getting me into their office and the doctor barely knew why I had come in until she looked at my leg. Once she did, her immediate response was something about me needing to come in as soon as the hole happened and my response was something about how that’s not what the website said. Needless to say, the doctor at Baldwin fixed me up with a nonstick bandage and sent me to Mid-Hudson to go to the hospital, saying that I would probably be there for the rest of the afternoon. Three things are wrong with this last sentence: 1. Nonstick bandages on an infection are bad because they slide around, allowing air to get near the area, allowing it to become more infected. 2. They didn’t look at my records and to see what insurance I had, they just assumed that I had the Vassar insurance even though I don’t, thereby sending me to a hospital outside my insurance network. Do you think I know what hospitals are in different networks? Is that something I do in my free time? Hell no! I’m a freaked out 20 year old in your office needing to go to the correct hospital. Please don’t mess this up, though they did. 3. They told me that I would be there for the rest of the afternoon and that would be it, but no. I was there for 3 days, completely unprepared for what was happening to me. 3 days, a surgery and $50,000 in medical bills later, I was out of the hospital. Baldwin kept wanting to check up on me despite the fact that I was seeing other more highly qualified doctors about my wound. After lots of pestering emails and phone calls, I went to go see them. It had to be during a class in which I had a quiz in too since they had no other availability, I don’t know how but anyway, when the doctor at Baldwin was done checking me out she said that I needed to come back and see her every two days and then bandaged my leg with, you guessed it, a nonstick bandage. At this point in the story, my leg wound is this grotesque open crater about an inch in diameter. If this were open to the air it would have easily gotten reinfected and the people at Baldwin were basically making sure that happened. Thankfully it didn’t and here I am three months later with a healed leg and a healthy fear of staph infections. Now though, I don’t trust Baldwin as much as I did then.

 

November 2016

Tags: positive review

I needed a new psychiatrist and psychologist. Baldwin gave me the names of off-campus providers who took my insurance and specialized in my disorders. They also helped me set up the appointments and told me about the Wellness fund.

 

November 2016

Tags: misdiagnosis, inappropriate behavior and/or negligence

I was feeling very fatigued and thought that it was due to a low iron level. I requested a test to check my iron levels, but they did almost every test on my blood other than an iron test (such as a testosterone test and Lyme test). They did happen to find a cyst on my thyroid pretty much by accident, but it made it about 1000x more difficult to get help for my depression from Metcalf because they kept blaming it on the thyroid (which an endocrinologist claimed wasn’t affecting the functioning of my thyroid. When going back and forth between an endocrinologist, the imaging center, etc., the secretary gave me sass for not knowing the endocrinologist’s fax number, and refused to submit the authorization form only until I found the “correct” fax number. They also “suggested” a health group for an endocrinologist, and if I hadn’t asked my sister (who is a doctor) to check through her contacts, I wouldn’t have been able to meet with an endocrinologist for at least a couple months (and I didn’t know if it was cystic or cancerous at the time).

 

November 2016

Tags: inappropriate behavior and/or incompetence, procedural incompetence

After being EMSed I had to have a follow up appointment with Baldwin. I met with a young white male doctor. I still am confused as to what the purpose of the appointment was. Clearly they were checking on my health after having to go to the ER for alcohol poisoning but no motions were made to check on my health. No blood pressure check or anything. He simply read the hospital report to me. I just sat there waiting to leave and confirmed that I did feel better (obviously I would because it was almost a week after the incident). He didn’t seem to care at all about ant details of the situation or about me. I felt like a box just being checked off his list.

 

November 2016

Tags: misdiagnosis, wrong prescription, procedural incompetence

I thought I had a UTI so I went to Baldwin, the woman tested my pee and told me she couldn’t tell if I had one or not (???) and so I was like should I do anything? And she said to def take antibiotics and gave them to me, this would be the third time Baldwin had prescribed me antibiotics in 2 months and I decided to hold on to them and only take them if I started to really feel bad. I drank a ton of water over the next couple days and took cranberry pills and my mysterious UTI went away.

 

November 2016

Tags: misdiagnosis, later or denied health advisory

My biggest problem with Baldwin is that they are incredibly unequal in their treatment depending on who you see. I went in to Baldwin because I had been sick for a few weeks and coughing a lot. They told me that I had a fever and bronchitis, and prescribed me antibiotics. However, despite the fact that I had both a fever and an infection in my lungs that required antibiotics, they would not put me on health advisory. This wouldn’t even be a problem if it was the same for everyone, but it’s not. Depending on who you see, you could be put on health advisory for feeling slightly sick or never put on at all. I have talked to a lot of people who’ve gone because they were overtired or had a minor cold and managed to get onto health advisory, but so far I have never been put on, despite multiple actual sicknesses. I’m not saying that I always need to be on health advisory, I just think there should be a standard procedure so that it’s not so random.

 

November 2016

Tags: misdiagnosis

I had a really bad rash on my whole body. It was very scary. The rash was also spreading and I could not figure out why. I had no sore throat and didn’t feel sick otherwise. Baldwin tested me for mono and strep. One of the PAs asserted that I could have both mono and strep at the same time. The PA told me I would have to take incompletes on all of my classes and go home. The funny part was I didn’t exhibit any of the signs of strep or mono except a rash. Baldwin gave me penicillin, not a surprise since they seem to give out this antibiotic to anyone that steps foot in the building. I didn’t take the antibiotic since I didn’t see the point because Baldwin didn’t know if my rash was caused by a bacterial or viral infection. My rash ended up going away with time not thanks to Baldwin..

 

November 2016

Tags: misdiagnosis, wrong prescription, procedural incompetence

I went to Baldwin because I had a sore throat and some fatigue. They told me confidently I had mono and made me do a blood test. I had to wait 5 days for the results only to find out that I didn’t have mono. Then they told me I had strep and finally gave me antibiotics that lasted for 7 days. Then I finished those antibiotics in time to go home for Thanksgiving and was feeling better. But two days after I finished the antibiotics the strep came back because they didn’t put me on strong enough antibiotics and I had to wait until I was back at school to get different ones. I was finally put on strong enough antibiotics to get rid of the strep for good. I basically had strep for 3 weeks because of Baldwin and this would have never happened if I had seen my doctor at home.

 

December 2016

Tags: misdiagnosis, procedural incompetence

My roommate had mono and it took them more than 2 weeks to diagnose it, which shouldn’t be normal on a college campus when they can contaminate everyone because they didn’t know they were contagious.

 

December 2016

Tags: potentially dangerous prescription

This past winter I had a really horrible cough. It turned out I had whooping cough. My doctor at Baldwin told me I had two options for treatment, one that would be much more expensive, but would help a lot, and one that was much cheaper, and wouldn’t do anything. Obviously, I chose the expensive one, because why spend even a little money on something that wouldn’t help? She told me I made a good choice. The more expensive option was an inhaler. The cheaper option…Robitussin.

 

January 2017

Tags: wrong prescription, procedural incompetence

So Ddddddd does the prescriptions alongside Ddddddd the psychiatrist @ metcalf…. and she fucks the prescriptions up often. At least twice there has been a major issue. For instance, when she prescribed me the wrong type of my drug and told me I should just start taking that one… and again when she wouldn’t prescribe me the current dosage because of miscommunication between her, me and Ddddddd and she was just like well you should just start going off the drug now then…. These instances were all the more annoying and scary because they were anti-depressants not vitamins….

Also, lol, but not really. Ddddddd  is scary. And I basically started crying when I thought she was gonna give me a pelvic exam.

 

January 2017

Tags: positive review

Listen, this is a great article if people are feeling mistreated. However, whenever I have been to Baldwin (the last time with they flu), I was treated very well. My doctor was nice and patient, and did all she could. Are there specific doctors who are bad? I have just never heard of Baldwin being horrible. In fact, many of the doctors that I’ve had to go to off-campus say that Baldwin is the best college medical treatment they’ve seen. I feel like there is a lot to protest at Vassar, I just don’t feel like Baldwin is one of them.

 

January 2017

Tags: wrong prescription, inappropriate behavior and/or negligence

I went to Baldwin for a follow up visit after I was diagnosed with bronchitis by Ddddddd and told if I spiked a fever I should come back. When I made the appointment I asked to see the same doctor I had seen the day before and was told I would see her again. When I got to Baldwin I sat feverish in the lobby for a while which wasn’t a big deal until I was taken back into an office by a nurse who had no idea about what was going on with me. She took my vitals and brought in Ddddddd who came in, leaned against the counter, put his hands in his pockets and asked “So what’s up?” He proceeded to shrug his way through the appointment, telling me I “probably had the flu” but that the flu test would be pretty uncomfortable and the medicine they give for early flu signs (Tamiflu) would be $15 a pill and I would “probably” need to take 10. Every sentence was punctuated with a shrug instilling zero confidence in his abilities. His only contribution was to put me on health advisory. Nothing he said was definite and I was about to leave and try to find an off-campus doctor to help me with what I was nearly certain was the flu (my housemate and half the school had the flu at the time). Thankfully Ddddddd realized I was there and came in from another appointment to make sure I was taken care of. She prescribed Tamiflu which I picked up from CVS and payed $15 for the entire dose with Vassar’s health insurance.

 

January 2017

Tags: misdiagnosis, procedural incompetence, late or denied health advisory

I had mono (I’d already been tested by my doctor at home), so I went to Baldwin at the beginning of the semester, because they’re supposed to give you indefinite health advisory, so that if you’re fatigued (a major symptom of mono), you can get the rest you need. They insisted on doing their own bloodwork, which not only took forever (I had to wait for an available nurse in a separate room), but also got completely botched. Whoever did it clearly did not know what they were doing- they stuck it in my forearm, well below the crease of my elbow, and ruptured my vein. I had a huge bruise for a month, and they didn’t even end up giving me health advisory. I feel like I’m not trusted to know my own body, and that the protocol for health advisory is widely different depending on the doctor. I have friends who have been given health advisory for a cold, and yet when I had bronchitis that needed both antibiotics and cough syrup with codeine, I was still deemed healthy enough to attend classes. We need better treatment, we need actual trained staff, and we need to trust students when they say they have a problem.

 

February 2017

Tags: women’s health, misdiagnosis, inappropriate behavior and/or negligence

At the end of last semester, I went in for my yearly Pap smear/STI test. I was told by Ddddddd that I had nonspecific cervicitis and was given antibiotics. I was told that this could mean I have chlamydia, gonorrhea, or HPV. A week later (during winter break), Ddddddd called me telling me that I had HPV and to come into Baldwin when I was back on campus. A month and a half later (which I spent worrying about the fact that I had HPV), I went back to Baldwin to discuss it during which I was told by the other women’s center doctor that I in fact did not have HPV and was shown test results that clearly said: “HPV negative”. While I was relieved to hear that I didn’t have an STI, I was furious that they had led me to think that I had one for nearly two months. While this isn’t my first Baldwin fuck-up (including the oftentimes rude women’s center receptionist leaving her office wide open and empty with my open file on her desk and the time they forgot to tell security to give me a ride to class when I was on crutches), this is certainly the worst fuck up I’ve had to deal with.

 

February 2017

Tags: inappropriate behavior and/or negligence

I took my friend over to Baldwin because she was very sick and in fact fainted twice that morning. After a quick consultation, Baldwin promised to call her back to come back in as they saw it as serious. After many days and inclusive a call made by my friend herself, they never gave her another meeting.

 

February 2017

Tags: inappropriate behavior and/or negligence, procedural incompetence

I went to Baldwin because I had a splinter in my hand and didn’t have any tweezers. I was told to sit in the waiting room and had to wait for an hour to be told that I had to make an appointment for another day. When I came back, I had to wait another half hour before anyone would see me. Instead of pulling the splinter out with tweezers, the doctor picked my hand open with a needle and scraped the splinter out. Then I had to get a tetanus shot, but he wouldn’t give it to me then, so I had to make another appointment. It honestly would have been faster and less painful to have someone mail me a pair of tweezers from home.

 

February 2017

Tags: positive review, inappropriate behavior and/or negligence

I woke up in severe pain with a fever of 102. I called Baldwin the minute they opened. An extremely sassy woman picked up, before I could even say anything, she put me on hold. After five minutes of waiting, she asked me what my problem was, I told her I was in severe pain (literally crying while telling her this) and needed to see someone ASAP. Without responding at all to anything I just said, she told me to hold again. Then promptly hung up the phone on me.
I called back and she told me to come in an hour from then, with no apology for hanging up the phone on me.
**I did eventually get medical help by a really great RN there (Bless you Anne) who got me to the hospital immediately. I was there for three days. I needed to be hospitalized and instead Baldwin put me on hold, and then legit hung up on me. BUT for real, the RN there was amazing through my entire experience, making sure I got everything I needed, and giving me great follow up care after.

 

February 2017

Tags: women’s health, misdiagnosis, wrong prescription, inappropriate behavior and/or negligence, procedural incompetence

I went into Baldwin on a Monday for urinary tract symptoms that had begun the Friday before and had 99% cleared up by the Sunday. The person I saw diagnosed me with chlamydia as soon as I opened my mouth and didn’t let me explain that I hadn’t had unprotected sex of any kind or injected myself with needles — and didn’t listen when I said the symptoms had all but gone away. He ordered a test for chlamydia — but told me it would check for a regular urinary tract infection (UTI) and gonorrhea as well — and gave me the chlamydia meds — but told me it would knock out a regular UTI too. I took the meds, but nothing happened for the next few days (the symptoms actually returned a bit). The test results came back negative and I went in for a follow-up.

I was told, with an unmistakably surprised tone of voice, what a shock it was that I didn’t have chlamydia, even though I hadn’t done anything that would have exposed me to the infection. The person then informed me that they hadn’t ordered the test for a regular UTI and had just done the chlamydia one — after expressly telling me it would test for both. (And I later found out that the meds I was given don’t do anything for regular UTIs which explains why my symptoms didn’t clear up all the way).

I asked what the new diagnosis was since it wasn’t either chlamydia, gonorrhea, or a UTI. The Baldwin person then asked me to do a follow-up test for gonorrhea — AND ANOTHER ONE FOR CHLAMYDIA. THEY ALSO TRIED TO GIVE ME THE CHLAMYDIA MEDS AGAIN, EVEN THOUGH I OBVIOUSLY DIDN’T HAVE CHLAMYDIA AND THE MEDS DID NOTHING THE FIRST TIME. I said there was no way I was going to do a test if it didn’t also test for a regular UTI. They agreed and I did the test.

Three weeks after the second test date I received an email saying everything had come up negative and could I come in for a follow-up. I declined. I still don’t know what they actually ran the second tests for.

 

February 2017

Tags: misdiagnosis

I went preliminarily to Baldwin to have my hand and wrist stabilized after a bad fall. Afterwards, they sent me to have an x-ray done to determine the severity of the injury and a day later I went to see a hand/wrist-specialized orthopedist who informed me that I had fractured a bone in my hand. Just after finishing with my appointment at the orthopedist, I received a call from Baldwin in which I was told that the results of the x-ray had come in and everything looked alright, which was clearly not the case. Luckily I had the resources to go see a specialist, but this worries me for other students who may not have the same resources, and who then would not get appropriate treatment for an injury as serious as a fractured bone.

 

February 2017

Tags: inappropriate behavior and/or negligence, procedural incompetence

I go in on a weekend to see the nurse after a night of a fever and high pulse. The nurse “observes no symptoms” and tells me to call when I get worse. Days later and the fever continues and things get worse, so I call for an appointment. Because everyone on campus is sick right now, there are none to be had. Still waiting.

 

February 2017

Tags: inappropriate behavior and/or incompetence, procedural incompetence

A few days after having a leg injury I noticed my entire leg was swelling up and turning dark red. A few hours later I was barely able to walk on it. I went into Baldwin on a Saturday and was seen by a nurse who said that it looked like either a staph infection or cellulitis but she couldn’t be sure because she wasn’t a doctor and that the doctor wouldn’t be in until Monday. No one in Baldwin could prescribe me antibiotics or give me any medical advice, and the doctor had appointments until 3pm on Monday. It felt awful, knowing that outside of going to the ER (which is way more expensive than anything my family could afford), there was no way for me to get treatment for 2 days for what could be a serious infection. I ended up spending the rest of the weekend stuck in my bed, popping aspirin and icing my leg. The swelling did eventually go down after a nurse I know sent me some medication, but I’m still left worrying: If anyone gets seriously sick on a weekend, will they be ok? Or will they be left without treatment from Baldwin?

 

March 2017

Tags: wrong prescription, procedural incompetence

I had a super sore throat, large lymph nodes, and a slight fever. Baldwin tested me for strep, and even though it was negative they gave me antibiotics because it was a really bad sore throat. They told me that the only reason that would be bad would be if I had mono, which they “didn’t think I had,” but they never tested me for it. Unfortunately, a week after I finished the antibiotics, I had a bad reaction in the form of a rash, which my doctor at home said happens when you have antibiotics while you have mono. Ugh.

 

March 2017

Tags: inappropriate behavior and/or negligence

I had the flu and needed a health advisory. They sent it 3 weeks after my appointment, after I had to struggle through a physics midterm while sick (they hadn’t sent it so my professor wouldn’t excuse me).

 

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