Moffitt Health Center set to open in spring

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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) — When a pesky cold got the best of Ginny Kaminski a few weeks ago, the University of Southern Mississippi freshman trekked across campus to the health clinic for treatment.

Come next spring, the Century Park North resident only needs to cross West Fourth Street and make a quick left turn to be at the new Moffitt Health Center.

Set to open in March, the new state-of-the-art health center will be housed on the bottom floor of Scott Hall and be part of the Century Park South residential complex. It will replace the Beedie Smith Health Clinic — which opened on campus in 1962.

A ribbon cutting for the facility is set for April 9.

"We'll be very close to about 1,500 students who live in the Century Park North and South residence halls," said Dr. Virginia Crawford, the health center's medical director. "Our main goal is to provide quality, convenient health care, wellness care to the university community."

Along with a new locale, the health center will grow from about 5,000 square feet in the Beedie Smith site to 13,000 square feet in Scott Hall. The new facility also will have classroom space, separate sick visit and well visit waiting rooms, and 15 private exam rooms.

Staffed with two physicians, two nurse practitioners, one physician assistant, five nurses, a pharmacist, two laboratory technicians and a support staff, the health center not only provides treatment for acute minor illnesses and injuries but offers immunizations, mental health counseling, preventive health services and more, Crawford said.

All USM students are eligible to use the Student Health Service. Services also are available for university faculty and staff on a fee-for-service basis.

"The new location will be really convenient for a lot more students," said Kaminski, a nursing major, who also works at the Beedie Smith Health Clinic. "And many students don't realize how affordable it is — the cost of treatment is much less than some other options."

The health center charges $15 to see patients. Lab work, X-rays, injections or medications are additional fees depending on the service or medication. The health center also accepts some insurance carriers.

"We try to make health care as affordable as possible," Crawford said. "Our goal is to make it accessible for students."

The Moffitt Health Center is also near and dear to Crawford's heart for another reason. In 1999, Crawford's father, the late Dr. Ellis Moffitt, donated the lead money — $1 million — for a new health care facility at USM.

Along with her father who was an allergist, Crawford's mother, the late Nana Moffitt, was a psychiatrist, and her late brother, John Moffitt, a pediatrician. The center's lobby will be named in honor of her brother.

Despite the health center not slated to open until March, the 230-bedroom Scott Hall will open in January. It will be the final residence hall in the $58 million Century Park South development.

The USM Foundation recently completed a fundraising initiative — the Moffitt Health Center Campaign — which raised approximately $1.08 million for the new facility.

Crawford said the donations are being used to complete construction, purchase new furnishings and technology for the health center. The fundraiser also allowed the facility to increase in square footage by 30 percent, providing more space for the lab and X-ray, health care provider work areas and the pharmacy.

Shannon Fleming, the foundation's executive director, said the fundraising effort for the health center was a 100 percent success.

"The completion of this campaign would not have been possible without the incredible support of our donors," he said. "The new center will provide quality state-of-the-art health care and wellness programs to thousands of Southern Miss students, faculty and staff. The legacy of the Moffitt family and their dedication to the university will live on for decades to come."


Information from: The Hattiesburg American,

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