Previously located on the second floor of Johnson Hall, Lehigh’s Health and Wellness Center (HWC) expanded this semester to include the third floor of the building as well, allowing for growth as Lehigh’s student body grows.
Despite this prolonged consistency, temporary movements have occurred recently. The HWC temporarily relocated some services to Trembley Park 7 and 8 during the 2020-2021 school year to successfully deal with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Karen R. Sicinski, director of Nursing at the HWC, has been a nurse at Lehigh for the past 30 years.
Sicinski said that students with COVID-19 symptoms or students exposed to COVID-19 were evaluated and treated on the third floor of Johnson Hall, referred to as the HWC South Entrance. Students requiring other non-COVID related services were seen at the two units at Trembly Park to lessen any exposure students would be subject to when seeking medical treatment.
While active COVID-19 cases on campus have decreased since last school year and the beginning of this current school year, the HWC experienced and dealt with an extreme uptick in cases during the middle of the physical move.
“The task ahead of us was to maintain services, do the actual move of equipment and supplies, and to adjust to the new surroundings as quickly as possible,” Sicinski said.
She said though the move had some challenges, the expansion was an overall positive experience, especially following the splitting up of the center into two separate units last school year.
Sicinski said the move ushered in some challenges, however, the staff is excited to be back in their familiar building with a newly renovated second floor.
Dr. David Rubenstein, the Executive Director of the HWC, said the expansion emphasized the creation of more space and room to develop the center.
“The biggest advantage is the doubling in size of the HWC to include five additional exam rooms, six work-stations, three offices, a lab, a large waiting room and larger bathrooms, and check-in and check-out areas,” Rubenstein said.
The HWC’s growth parallels the growth of the student population at Lehigh, allowing for a more responsive and supportive program.
“Given the growing healthcare needs of students, we felt it was important to expand our health services space,” Rubenstein said. “In the longer term, we knew the necessity of increasing HWC space would be one of the factors that would allow us to see more students more efficiently.”
Although the actual location might not have changed significantly, the location of certain services has, resulting in confusion for some students.
Kyla Branco, ‘25, experienced some of this confusion after her visit to the HWC. The difference between the two floors and how to access them is the source of most of her uncertainty.
“I had to make sure that I was entering the right floor of the Health and Wellness Center for the specific service that I needed,” Branco said.
Overall, Rubenstein added that the expansion of the HWC, though taxing, has proven the dedication and determination of the HWC.
“It is a testament to the resolve of the HWC staff to accomplish this during this time period,” Rubenstein said.