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Princeton University

Task Force on Health & Well-Being



Steps Already Taken
From: Final Report, November 2004

From the beginning, our task force has been eager to identify, propose, and support improvements in programs and policies that could be implemented before we completed our work. Over the past year, more than a dozen significant steps have been taken to enhance the health and well being of students, faculty, and staff. These steps have included the following:

Student Health Plan (SHP)

  • Effective this fall, the SHP prescription drug plan was improved by eliminating the claims process. This makes the plan comparable to the University’s faculty/staff plan. Instead of paying out-of-pocket for prescription drugs and then submitting a claim for reimbursement, students now have a $100 deductible and then pay only a small co-pay for each prescription.
     
  • Effective this fall, the deductible for medical coverage was reduced from $250 to $200.
     
  • Effective last year, well-baby coverage under the plan was significantly improved and eligibility for coverage under the plan was extended to same-sex partners.

University Health Services (UHS)

  • Last year the Priorities Committee provided almost $110,000 in additional funding for support staff personnel (1.89 FTEs); this amount was later modestly supplemented by the provost to add roughly another .14 FTE to expand psychiatric consultation services.

Faculty/Staff Initiatives

  • Effective October 1, 2004, all faculty and staff (and their household members) have access to a 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week Employee Assistance and Work/Life Counseling program, at no cost to them, through Carebridge, a company with extensive experience in providing these kinds of services. There also will be a counselor on campus eight hours a week. We discuss this program in greater detail later in our report.
     
  • Effective January 2005, all University employee health care plans will expand coverage for mental health visits from 24 to 50 per year; will expand coverage for physical therapy, occupational therapy, and cardiac rehabilitation therapy from 20 to 30 visits; and will expand eligibility for mammogram coverage.
     
  • The amount available under the Staff Educational Assistance Plan, which helps staff members pay tuition and fees for courses they take toward an undergraduate or graduate degree, was increased from $3,000 a year to the federal limit of $5,250 a year.
     
  • The Excelling at Princeton program that was launched last year to provide bi-weekly staff members with opportunities to work with an instructor from Mercer County Community College to develop their skills has been extended and expanded. The University covers the costs of the program and pays for released time so members of the staff can participate.
     
  • On October 19 the Dean of the Faculty announced the creation of a dependent child care fund to cover costs of dependent child care for full, associate, and assistant professors who are attending learned society meetings, other conferences, workshops, and professional development opportunities.

Fitness Programs

  • Building Services identified more than 70 steps to improve cleanliness and make long-deferred repairs in all areas of Dillon Gym. Some have already been completed or are under way, while all others have been prioritized and will be reviewed as part of the major maintenance process.   
     
  • The University agreed not to increase the faculty/staff permit fee for Dillon in 2004-05 so the task force could continue considering a fee scale based on ability to pay.

Nutrition

  • Last year Dining Services began making extensive information about nutrition available on-line.
     
  • Last spring the task force recommended that the underutilized Frist Beverage Lab be converted into a Healthy Eating Lab featuring entrees that are high in nutrients and vitamins but low in fat and calories and that it provide demonstrations about preparing healthy foods. This fall, the Frist Healthy Eating Lab opened, offering soup, salad, sushi, and other healthy options to students, faculty, and staff who have been patronizing the lab in growing numbers (now over 400 customers a day). The lab has already added evening hours to its initial lunchtime schedule.

Child Care

  • Last January we reported that Alison Nelson, manager of benefits and compensation in the Office of Human Resources, had been designated as the University’s coordinator for child care matters on an interim basis. She continues to serve in that role.
     
  • Last April we reported that the University had removed any limitation on the support that could be awarded to graduate students by the University League Nursery School from funds that the University provides for scholarship assistance. This fall we clarified that these funds could be used to assist families in the part-day as well as the full-day program. As a result of these changes, the School was able to provide almost $24,000 in scholarship support to University families, as compared to only about $6,000 a year ago.
     
  • As reported in April, the provost’s office reserved one slot per class (a total of six slots) for this year at the U-Now Nursery School for University families who arrived too late to participate in the School’s regular application process.

While we are very pleased that so many significant steps have already been taken, there is much more that needs to be done if Princeton is to address the needs we were asked to examine and live up to the principles we propose at the beginning of this report. The agenda we present below is extensive and ambitious. We recognize that a number of our proposals require additional work or substantial resources before they can go forward, and that everything we propose cannot happen at once. At the same time, we hope that the University will take as many steps as it can as quickly as it can. We turn now to our final set of recommendations.

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