Additional support provided for health and well-being initiatives

Jan. 22, 2005, 11:28 a.m.

The recommendations presented last fall by the Task Force on Health and Well-Being were a key consideration during recent discussions about the University's operating budget.

About half of the $500,000 allocated for special funding for 2005-06 by the Priorities Committee of the Council of the Princeton University Community is designated for initiatives proposed by the task force (see related story). Because the committee's budget was quite limited this year, University administrators sought additional means for supporting the recommendations through repurposing existing funds and modest fee increases.

"I am pleased to report that, through creative collaborations among University committees and administrators, the University has taken important first steps toward implementing the task force's recommendations," wrote Provost Christopher Eisgruber in a Jan. 20 memorandum to trustees and cabinet members. "I am confident that they will immediately enhance the Princeton community and lay the foundation for further progress in this area."

The initial phase of improvements focuses particularly on issues related to undergraduate and graduate student health, although some recommendations regarding faculty and staff well-being also are being implemented. A number of the projects are already under way, while others will begin with the next fiscal year in July. They include:

Student Health Plan
• Increasing plan coverage from 50 percent to 80 percent of the cost of outpatient mental health visits.
• Increasing the number of outpatient mental health visits covered by the plan from 24 to 30 per year.
• Reducing the fees charged for dependent coverage. The cost of covering one dependent will drop from $3,010 to $2,000, and for more than one dependent from $4,780 to $3,000.

University Health Services staffing
• Expanding and strengthening UHS staffing through:
-- Funding an operations administrator, additional staff in health education/promotion and a clinical nutritionist.
-- Providing additional support for psychiatric counseling.
-- Funding expanded summer coverage.
• Improving staff efficiency through the purchase of a new medical management system that should allow UHS to eliminate the use of student workers in its reception area.

• Producing a health and well-being newsletter and considering other initiatives to increase awareness of programs, services and benefits related to health and well-being.
• Giving greater prominence to physical education and recreation on the Department of Athletics Web site and funding the redesign of brochures and flyers.

Work/Life coordinator
• Hiring a work/life coordinator to oversee the University's relationship with Carebridge (faculty and staff assistance program), serve as the University's child care coordinator, help identify elder care initiatives and improve communication about programs and benefits.

Sick leave
• Working through the Office of Human Resources to develop a procedure that will allow staff to carry over up to eight sick days.

"Healthier Princeton"
• Hiring a part-time health educator (in addition to the health educator mentioned earlier) to coordinate and promote health services, human resources and physical education programs focused on faculty and staff.

Fitness programs
• Committing $600,000 from major maintenance and capital budgets to improve maintenance and cleanliness in Dillon Gym. 
• Increasing the Dillon Gym fee for faculty and staff by $50 beginning in July to pay for additional cleaning at Dillon and, to the extent possible, to expand the hours of the gym and the Stephens Fitness Center.
• Allocating almost $60,000 a year over four years to replace fitness equipment at Stephens Fitness Center.
• Providing public computer terminals in the Dillon Gym lobby.
• Negotiating discount membership rates and special programming for University faculty and staff at 34 area gyms in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Child care
• Increasing the number of spaces at U-Now reserved for University families who arrive too late to participate in the regular application process from six to 10 and at U-League from zero to two.
• Making lighting and maintenance improvements at 171 Broadmead, the home of U-Now and U-League.
• Improving the child care centers' emergency preparedness and emergency response plans. 

Facilities needs
• More fully assessing the longer-term facilities needs at McCosh Health Center and Dillon Gym.
• Evaluating options for proposed new child care facilities. 

In addition, several offices are continuing to address issues related to benefits for postdoctoral students, and the Graduate School is reviewing all aspects of the status of post-enrolled graduate students.