The health of nations


Today, the UTM Health and Counselling Centre offers students medical and psychological services; the centres commitment to all forms of health has grown dramatically since its conception.

The HCC began in 1967 in the North Building with one staff nurse staff and one doctor who was on call during regular office hours. The centre moved to its current location in the South Building basement in 1973, and now employs five part-time doctors, three part-time nurses, and two personal counsellors along with coordinators and administrators. The Health Centre also boasts an impressive amount of volunteers.

In recent years, the HCCs services have expanded with their staff, now including counselling and prevention programs among regular medical practises. Health centre counsellors work in one-on-one sessions, couples therapy and in group sessions such as the Stressbusters workshop. Next term, the centre hopes to hold a session that relieves stress through jogging. The centre also runs a health promotion program, operated by a health promotion coordinator working with thirty student volunteers. These volunteers focus on different areas of health promotion through events, workshops and presentations, and tackle issues such as stress and drug and alcohol abuse. Students in the South Building around Halloween may have noticed the get your bones home safe booth, which advocated responsible drinking.

The HCC maintains standard medical practises. We have everything youd find in a family doctors office, said Alison Burnett, the director of the HCC. We can offer wellness exams, physical exams, referrals to other services for chronic issues. We even have a blood lab where we can take blood and test it so students dont need to go off-campus. The centre also contains a dispensary offering free single-dose over the counter medication such as Tylenol or Aspirin, and sells birth control at a reduced price.

The HCCs governance lies with Alison Burnett, with significant input from student groups, individual clinic users, and QSS. QSS, the Quality of Service to Students organization consists of students and staff. It approves the health centres budget and plays an important part in what the health centre can do with regards to its future plans.

In the future, Burnett hopes to increase the availability of the centres services. Our physicians are sometimes booked weeks in advance, as are our counsellors, she said. Wed really like to increase our availability to meet the needs of students.

While the Health Centre serves individual students, Burnett also has to view the university as a whole, especially when it comes to risks such as an H1N1 epidemic. Students will remember that until the low amount of H1N1 vaccine was revealed, the health centre had planned for a campus-wide vaccination program.  Burnett says that the HCC still has a small amount of vaccine to deliver to high-risk students, and will continue to work with Peel Public Health on influenza issues. Burnett urges students to receive the vaccine once it becomes available to the community, the vaccine is a safe and effective means to preventing the spread of the virus.

In the mean time, the health centre in coordination with the university has taken preventative measures since the beginning of the year, including the preparedness website (, the flu-related absence record on ROSI, and the peer health educators Wellness Wednesdays workshops, focusing on simple flu prevention techniques and trivia.