Following the COVID-19 pandemic and the return of students to full Island life, Loomis Chaffee administrators decided to make major transformations to the health center to better fit the needs of the student body and enhance the on-site medical resources the school can provide to the LC community. As part of this goal, the school set out to bring in a licensed medical doctor that would work on campus with the student body rather than simply relying on an off-site advisory MD—as the school has had in the past.
However, on September 24, 2021, Head of School Dr. Sheila Culbert informed the Loomis Chaffee community that plans with Dr. Nikki Pinkerton, the newly-appointed Medical Director, did not work out. Dr. Pinkerton was supposed to join the health center team as our on-site medical doctor and would be able to see patients and provide additional resources to students that are not available without the presence of a licensed MD.
With Dr. Pinkerton leaving, the school has returned to our advisory doctor, Dr. Ian Kleinhen, who has served the health center in an off-site capacity for the past several years. Dr. Kleinhen will now work in tandem with the Director of Nursing Ms. Carolyn Jarvis ’06 and interim Medical Director Dr. Mary Adler.
“Our commitment to student wellbeing remains our highest priority,” Dr. Culbert wrote in an all-school email.
Additionally, the school has taken several precautions to make sure that the year runs smoothly as Loomis works to hire a permanent on-site MD who, in conjunction with the rest of the health center staff, will provide medical care to students on campus.
“Dr. Ian Kleinhen is serving as our medical director as he has for many years, and Ms. Carolyn Jarvis ’06 is providing leadership for the nurses, and managing the day-to-day operations. Ms. Jen Flynn continues as our APRN, and we have the additional support of Dr. Mary Adler P’15, ’18, ’21 who will be in the Health Center a few days a week. Several of our nurses are familiar faces to many students. We are moving forward steadily with our enhancements, such as the addition of Dr. Adler as an on-site doctor,” COVID-19 Coordinator and Assistant to the Head of School Ms. Mary Liscinsky said.
However, regardless of the absence of a permanent Medical Director, the health center staff states that they are as prepared as they have been in past years—if not more prepared than before.
“Dr. Ian Kleinhen is still our Medical Director, as he has been for the past several years and, on-site, we have the assistance of Dr. Mary Adler… having an MD on campus opens up the possibility for other services we can offer; additionally, we also have a nurse practitioner that can write prescriptions and do consultations for students,” Director of Nursing Ms. Carolyn Jarvis ’06 said.
While students have expressed their satisfaction with the quality care they are being provided in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, some students have voiced irritation with the long lines that are often present when students want to be seen.
“The Health Center is already doing a pretty good job. They seem to be communicating with each other pretty well but if checking-in was more structured, they’d definitely be more efficient and be able to help more people during flu season,” Jason Chen ’24 said.
Additionally, other students stated that they had concerns around the school’s medical protocols and the lack of clarity surrounding procedures for specific injuries.
“My coach said the protocol for a sting was to treat it and see if I have an allergic reaction. The nurse kind of dismissed me because she said she didn’t know about the protocol, but earlier the coach got in trouble because another student got stung and didn’t come to the health center. I was just confused. It was a little weird, but they brought me in and waited for a reaction,” Jane Smagulova ’23 said.
The Health Center and its staff, however, remain an integral part of the LC campus. With understaffing and an influx of students visiting the Health Center during the flu season, the doctors and nurses have maintained a high standard of service.
“Students will continue to have strong 24/7 care and support, and the school will continue to monitor the impact that COVID-19 has on Health Center needs,” Ms. Liscinsky said.