LINDSEY BRAY: Hello, Cornell families. My name is Lindsey Bray, I'm the director of Parent & Family Programs here at Cornell University. My office serves as a central resource for Cornell parents and families. We offer a variety of events and services, including our Becoming Big Red Cornell First Year Families Conversation series and newsletter.
Thank you so much for joining us live or watching this recording later. If you have any questions during the session, please use the Q&A function to submit those. We are unable to unmute any of our attendees to ask questions. And so we will do our best to answer all of your questions during that time.
We are only able to take those written questions, so thank you in advance for submitting those. So we will also be including links in the chat for any of our resources that are mentioned. If you're watching this later, they will also be included in the description.
So again, welcome. We're so happy to have you here today. So our topic for our Becoming Big Red Cornell First Year Family Conversation this week is health and well-being at Cornell. So today, we're going to discuss the services and support available from Cornell Health for our students and those student requirements related to health insurance, which we know parents always really need to know about.
So with us today, we have Julie Edwards, who is the director of the Skorton Center for Health Initiatives, David Reetz the director of Counseling and Psychological Services, Beth Parrott, the interim director of Student Disability Services, and Lyn Abbass the senior program and member Specialist in the Office of Student Health Benefits. Hi to my panelists. How are we doing today?
JULIE EDWARDS: Doing well.
LINDSEY BRAY: Great.
JULIE EDWARDS: Thank you for having us.
LINDSEY BRAY: Thank you all so, so much for joining us today. We're so excited to have you here. And I know our parents are very appreciative of you taking your time to answer their questions and help them get their student ready to come to Cornell. So Julie, we're going to start with you. Can you give us a little bit of an overview of what Cornell Health is?
JULIE EDWARDS: Sure. So Cornell Health is a physical building, and it comprises many different departments. And you will hear from my colleagues in a little bit, but we have our medical services, we have physical therapy, nutrition services, counseling and psychological services, student disability services, the Skorton Center for Health Initiatives all within one building.
And I'll get into some of the other services. But really, it's a one-stop-shop that we try to provide for all students to really try and support their health and well-being needs here at Cornell.
LINDSEY BRAY: Great. Yeah, it's so wonderful that we're able to provide all of these services to our students. So one of the big things that our parents always want to know about is, what kind of medical services might be available to their students, especially when they're coming from a little bit farther away?
JULIE EDWARDS: Sure. So we provide a wide range of medical services. And each of your students will be assigned a primary care provider. And so I always encourage parents to have their student get connected when they come to campus so that they can have an initial visit with that primary care provider. Because they really help coordinate health care throughout their time here at Cornell.
And we provide a wide range of services, such as lab testing and X-rays, immunizations and allergy shots. I mentioned previously nutrition, so we have nutritionists on staff. We have sexual health care, gender affirming services. We also have sports medicine and physical therapy, and also we have travel services. So if students are studying abroad, we have different services that are available. If they need certain vaccinations, we can help assist with that also.
And I know that we'll be talking about other specifics, but some of the other pieces under the medical side, we also have alcohol and other drug services. But then our medical providers really help navigate and help students navigate health care in general and can make referrals to the local community providers as needed.
LINDSEY BRAY: That's really fantastic to know that we have these services available. So as part of this, so obviously-- and we'll get in a little bit more about student insurance and those requirements a little bit later. But in terms of the cost for our students to access these services, what do those kind of look like?
JULIE EDWARDS: Sure. And I did notice, if it's OK, I'll answer a question that came in the chat as well. So all students can access Cornell Health. And so I would like to put that out there. All students pay a health fee. And so that is covering all of our services. So it does not matter the type of insurance that you have.
And costs for services can vary a bit. But for students who are studying in Ithaca and on the nearby Geneva campus, most Cornell Health visits are $10. Now, there are no costs for some of our services, and David will speak to counseling services, but there are no costs for preventative medical visits.
And there might be additional costs that really apply to, perhaps, prescriptions within the pharmacy, some of the lab tests, immunizations, and potentially some of our travel visits. And so it will adjust. I encourage students to ask their provider. They can help provide some guidance on those costs. But mostly, visits would cost $10.
LINDSEY BRAY: That's really great to know for our families as they kind of work through those costs and think those things through. So in addition to that, what kind of advocacy or support services are available for our students?
JULIE EDWARDS: So we have two different advocacy services that are available, as well as all of our colleagues that we'll be speaking within our respective areas. We do have patient advocates. So if your student comes in and maybe they're experiencing challenges somehow navigating health care, and they wanted to talk with someone or report something perhaps, they can reach out to one of our patient advocates.
And so I do have a link that we'll be able to share in the chat for all of you that lists all of our patient advocates within Cornell Health. We also offer victim advocacy services, and that's for individuals who may experience some form of sexual assault, or domestic violence, or something like that. And so those advocacy services are available as well.
But our providers, our staff within Cornell Health, we really all try to work with our students and advocate for their health and well-being overall. And so I argue that all of us serve as advocates in that way.
LINDSEY BRAY: That's so true. We have so many advocates for students as we really want to help see them succeed and be healthy and well while they're at Cornell. So one of the other big questions that we often get to is around a pharmacy. So if a student has any prescriptions, is there something available on campus? Is there a pharmacy available on campus for students to utilize?
JULIE EDWARDS: Yes, we actually have a pharmacy. We're very lucky in the fact that we have a pharmacy right within our Cornell Health building. So if you enter level four, or right off of Ho Plaza, that is where our pharmacy is located. And we are able to fill prescriptions not only from Cornell Health clinicians, but also non-Cornell Health clinicians.
Sometimes parents have asked me, what if my student has something that has to be refrigerated? Can that somehow be sent to the pharmacy instead of trying to navigate the mail services into the dorms? And yes, we can accept prescriptions that need to be medicated. So you can contact our pharmacy to set that up.
The pharmacy also provides a lot of different self care supplies, and they can help with private consultations. So if students have questions about the prescriptions that they have, it might be side effects, how they take them, those are all things that our pharmacists can really help students navigate. And it's wonderful to have it available right on campus so that students can easily access it.
LINDSEY BRAY: Yes, that is such a wonderful resource that we have for our students making it so easy for them. So in your role, particularly, you serve as director of the Skorton Center for Health Initiatives. Can you tell us what role that office plays for our students?
JULIE EDWARDS: Sure. The best way I can describe the Skorton Center for Health Initiatives is that we serve as the public health arm of Cornell Health. So we are out within the campus community pretty consistently. And the short version of how I like to describe our department is that we try to do the greatest good for the largest number of people.
So we use a data informed approach to really support campus health and well-being. And we collaborate with academic partners, with student and campus life partners to really try to help support our students through education, research, and evaluation ways in which we are providing various services and resources so that we can truly meet the needs of students. And so that's really the goal within the Skorton Center, to be out and about and really have that connection with students, staff, and faculty.
LINDSEY BRAY: Can you tell us a little bit about some of the programming that is offered through your office?
JULIE EDWARDS: Yes, absolutely. So we have various education and trainings. We offer many different bystander intervention trainings, not only for students, but also for staff and faculty. So these trainings are designed to help individuals identify potential signs of distress, how you can have a conversation with someone you might be concerned about, and then how do you refer to the appropriate campus resources that exist.
We also provide various workshops around alcohol and other drugs. We have different resilience-based programs where it's really looking at life skills. How do we help students and empower them to utilize their strengths to navigate challenges that they might experience? And we lead our health promoting campus work. And I'll talk a bit about that a little bit later.
One of the other pieces that we will be launching this year that I'm very excited about is well-being coaching. And this is really a one on one conversation that a student can have with a coach that helps them identify the strengths that they have inherent to themselves, and how can they utilize those strengths to create goals to really focus on their health and well-being. And so we're very excited to offer this to our campus this year.
LINDSEY BRAY: Yeah, that is a really amazing service that we're going to be able to offer to our students to really kind of help in those ways. So we at Cornell recently became a health promoting campus. Can you tell our parents a little bit about what that means and how that is going to really be a part of the Cornell experience?
JULIE EDWARDS: Sure. So we formally adopted the Okanagan Charter in October of this past year. And the reason that Cornell did this was to show our commitment to holistic well-being for the entire campus community, and not just thinking about people, but also thinking about the places and the planet. So thinking about sustainability.
And so we're very excited to be the only Ivy institution at this time who has formally adopted. But it just shows that we're building on the strong foundation that has existed at Cornell for many, many years. And we're taking it to the next level of, how do we think critically about the structures and systems that are here on our campus, and how do we improve upon those things so that we are better supporting students, we're creating more supportive campus environments, and we're also creating a sustainable environment for the future.
And so that's really what it means. I do have a link that we can share if you want to learn more. But there will be a standalone website for our health promoting campus efforts in the near future. So that will be launched at the beginning of the academic year.
LINDSEY BRAY: Yeah, it is a really amazing program that we are-- and an initiative that we're going to be able to do on our campus to really enhance the lives of all of our students, staff, and faculty. So we are super excited that we're able to do that.
Can you tell us as well some of your advice for families? Are there nudges that you feel that parents can give to their students along the way to help them be both mentally and physically well while they're at Cornell?
JULIE EDWARDS: Thank you for that question, Lindsey. So as a mother of four children between the ages of 20 and 28, I understand how it can be challenging just navigating as your student is heading off to college for the first time. I've helped my children navigate a variety of concerns throughout their college careers, from physical and mental health, to roommate concerns, to advocating for themselves.
So I encourage you to have open conversations with your students, just checking in on them regularly and asking open ended questions about their experiences, and also sharing campus resources. And that's why Lindsey and her office are creating all of these different opportunities so that you can learn about the resources that exist, and then you can encourage your students to reach out for help as they may need it, or just to even learn what they are about so that they can get involved.
And if you have not yet had the opportunity to visit our campus, I also suggest that you and your students explore the wonderful natural spaces of all across of our campus. Taking time in nature has actually proven to reduce stress and anxiety that people might be facing. And our campus is beautiful and really allows that opportunity.
We hear so many times from students that they don't have time to take care of themselves, and they need to devote all of their time to academics. So I anticipate that you may hear the same. I did for my own kids. What I would encourage you to do is let them know and recognize that you cannot pour from an empty cup.
And so how we are taking care of ourselves, it can really help us recharge and come back refreshed so that we can focus on the task at hand, we can continue to be successful, both personally and professionally. And again, the most important thing, I think, is that we care here at Cornell very deeply about all of our students.
We try our best to offer a wide range of services to meet their needs so that they are able to live fulfilling lives both personally and professionally and continue to flourish. And that's what I would encourage, is for them to reach out if they're struggling or if they just want to learn more.
LINDSEY BRAY: Could not agree more, Julie. Thank you so much for though for those nudges and that help. And I know our parents appreciate that. So we're going to turn to the next person on our panel. David, thank you so much for joining us as well. Can you tell us a little bit about Counseling and Psychological Services, or as many of our students know it, as CAPS, at Cornell and what's included in that under your office?
DAVID REETZ: Yeah. Well, first of all, thank you, Lindsey, for having me along with my colleagues today to talk about the many services that we provide at Cornell Health in helping success of, really, these remarkable students. As Lindsey said, I represent Counseling and Psychological Services. From here out, I will refer to that as CAPS.
We are a dynamic team of mental health professionals, because we are fundamentally providing mental health service to the student body. We do that in a variety of different ways. We have licensed clinical psychologists, we have licensed clinical social workers, we have licensed mental health counselors, and a team of psychiatric nurse practitioners here to provide a wide range of services.
Often when we think of mental health, we think of individual counseling. And that's certainly something that we offer. And that's probably what we do most. But it's important to know that that is just one of a variety of steps of care that we offer.
It begins with a variety of material that we have on our website that is sort of self-help in nature that guides students through a number of common issues that they experience during this time of life. And that is always a good place to start.
And then from there, we offer a variety of both clinical and non-clinical groups and workshops, which I could certainly talk more about. These provide students an opportunity to connect with others who are perhaps struggling or have questions around the same kinds of issues. And it helps build connections with their peers throughout campus.
Like I said, individual counseling certainly is something that we offer. And that is, to make it helpful and for us to be able to reach as many students in need as possible, we really try to focus on some specific, concrete goals within our treatment. So that's what we refer to as short term counseling. Student comes in, identifies some specific things they work on, and we really focus in on that and tackle it.
And then they go on their way and practice some of the things that they've learned, build those relationships that they really wanted to build, and then they to see how they do. And that might be all they need. If they need to come back for a booster or another issue emerges, they certainly are free to do that. But we really try to focus it, and we try to create change and facilitate change with students as quickly as possible.
We also offer psychiatric services. And like I said, we have a team of psychiatric nurse practitioners that are here to do medication evaluations and prescribing or reevaluate students that are coming in already on some medications. All of these things starts with one phone call to Cornell Health. Through that one phone call, they will be directed to the right area.
And when they're interested in mental health, they will begin with what's called an access appointment. And that's about a 30 minute conversation with one of our providers to determine what their needs are and to determine what's the most appropriate level of care that might be best for them or a variety of services that might be packaged together for them.
So again, a wide range that we offer. And I think it's also important to know that we create a system that allows student's access to mental health services 24 hours a day. So when we are closed, we have a mental health hotline that is active that students can call, whether it's in the evenings, on the weekends, even on holidays. This hotline is available to them, and they will be connected directly with a mental health provider to talk through whatever that urgent issue might be.
LINDSEY BRAY: That's a really great overview of the services. So thank you for that. So in addition to those services, does your office offer any kind of programming or events that can help students with stress, or conflict, or other emotions that they may be feeling while they're at Cornell?
DAVID REETZ: Yeah, absolutely. Even though clinical treatment delivery is our primary role, also central to our mission and serving the mental health student body and the community, we also partner with Julie's office and do a variety of educational programming around issues, mental health.
And one way we do that is these non-clinical workshops. These are skill-based workshops that focus on the skills to manage anxiety, or changes in mood, help build relationships, deal with issues that are often specific to our college students, like around perfectionism, or motivation, managing ADHD, and sort of structuring one's lifestyle around those challenges.
Those are non-clinical. No cost to those. And we offer a variety of them throughout each semester. Some are focused on specific identities, like groups specific for women or men, groups that are focused on members of our queer community or students of color, graduate, undergraduate students. And then some are issue focused, like anxiety, or depression, or interpersonal conflict.
So there's a whole host of programs that students can choose from. And we continue to try to understand what are the emerging trends with students, are there other types of programs, again, working closely with Julie's office, who keeps their finger on the pulse of the broader student body, and develop programming that stays current with changing student needs.
LINDSEY BRAY: Yeah, that's such a good point that we really try to meet students where they are in our programs and services. Because we want to make sure that they're taking advantage of these things. And families help with this as well to provide some of those nudges too along the way.
So as you're talking about those programming and things, are there other types of self care that you often recommend to students to help with that? I know Julie mentioned a couple, but do you have some that you also recommend to our students?
DAVID REETZ: Sure. You know, just the term self care is an interesting one. And I think mental health providers would respond to this in a variety of different ways. And I'm now entering my 17th year in working in college mental health and leading a department.
And when I think about self care, I really start with, and the way I talk to students about it, is it starts with kind of how they think about things. Because I really get them to try to think about their own internal rules that they have for themselves. And we develop all sorts of internal rules for ourselves that actually add to this the stress and pressure and anxiety of our life experience because some of those internal rules can be pretty harsh.
You can tell a rule is harsh when they have extreme language around it, like I must always be a certain way, or I must always do something, or I can never do that. It starts to create dilemmas for us. So my starting point is, it starts with how we orient ourselves to the world in which we live in.
And just by thinking about that and questioning some of these expectations that we have for ourselves, identifying the harsh ones, softening them a bit is a really profound way of taking better care for ourselves. It's just changing that degree of internal pressure.
And there's another remarkable self care strategy, and that's about finding the capacity to be honest with our own internal experience. You know, what I've learned from students over the years, and it's fairly predictable, many come in with expectations that they should already be prepared and know what challenges allay for them.
And really, any time we enter a new chapter in our life, there are unexpected obstacles out there waiting for us to hit. And I think it's important for us to be able to be open and honest, to have people in our lives that we can be open and honest with about the struggles and the challenges we have.
And a good way to practice getting more comfortable with that is talking about the small things, the small struggles, the small worries, the small challenges, the small missteps, the small mistakes, and making that a regular habit in our lives. And the more we get comfortable with the small things, the more likely we are to get comfortable with the bigger things that are emerging in our lives.
So just being able to be honest and be vulnerable with other people is a profound and powerful self-care strategy. And lastly, in terms of real concrete things, two of the most important things any of us could do for ourselves, certainly for students, is get good sleep, and drink lots of water. Because without sleep and without a hydrated body, we're going to feel terrible. And anything that lies in front of us, we will be less equipped to cope with and deal with.
You ever had that experience, you got a good night's sleep, you wake up, and all of the demands in front of you seem a little bit more manageable, a little bit more understandable. And when you drink lots of water, you feel like you have a little bit more physical capability of managing what lies in front of you.
So in sum for that one, self-care, think about those rules that we have for ourselves and how harsh they might be, relationships that we can be honest-- with people we can be honest about, and water and sleep.
LINDSEY BRAY: Those are words to live by. I think that gives a lot of advice even to our families along the way in how to handle those things. So thank you so much for those. I think those are really important nudges and points for our families as they're helping their student, especially this summer, get ready and have those conversations before even they start classes.
So a couple of the questions have come up in the chat about availability and cost. Can you talk a little bit more about that and those concerns, especially maybe on a regular basis or a crisis moment? You mentioned that we've got some more 24/7 options. Could you talk a little bit more about that for our families?
DAVID REETZ: Yes, thank you. And thank you for submitting that question. Availability, well, I said, it starts with one phone call to Cornell Health. And they will ask the right kinds of questions to get the student connected to the services that they need. And then the mental health line is there for any time that we are closed.
In the event that there's an emerging issue during times that we are open, we have positioned ourselves to have providers available for same day appointments for walk-in urgent care services. So if a student-- something comes up in the moment, they really need to see someone, we want them to come in, and we will have staff available to meet with them and problem solve what might be happening.
In terms of cost, just like Julie said, the direct clinical services, they all have that $10 cost to them. So that would be single session counseling. And I probably should say, single session is when a student just has a particular problem that they want to solve. And really, it's intended for just one appointment. Come in, talk to a mental health provider, do some problem solving around it, come up with an action plan, and then they leave.
There's no expectation of committing to a therapeutic relationship that's going to be ongoing for a time. Just coming in with a particular issue and focusing in on that. So there's that $10 charge for single sessions, individual counseling, and the clinical counseling groups.
The initial access appointments, there's no cost to those, and our workshops, there's no cost to those. There's no cost for our after hours mental health line, and there's no cost for those urgent care appointments. Again, we want to make all of our services as accessible as possible.
LINDSEY BRAY: And that's really important. Yes, we want to make them accessible and make sure that our students are getting what they need as well. So we talked a little bit about those help for our students. Are there signs or anything that you would recommend that our parents kind of look for when their student is at Cornell and maybe spaces where they may need a little bit more help along the way? Are there anything they should look for?
DAVID REETZ: Yeah. You know, there's a lot that could be said about this. But over the years, having done a good bit of training with my staff, colleagues, and our faculty partners, I try to keep the message pretty simple in terms of what we need to look for. Any changes, any notable changes in behavior, changes in sleep, changes in mood, changes in energy, interest, changes in communication.
I think it's reasonable to develop some concern when communication starts to taper off or you start to lose communication with students. Now certainly, it's developmentally normal for there to be a separation. But under the healthiest of circumstances, that would be a conversation, and there would be talk about creating more distance and maybe changing communication expectations.
But when communication starts to change and you start to lose it without understanding why, that's a reasonable sign of concern. You know, and I think it's setting the stage for that, like I was implying a little earlier, and Julie spoke to this, is trying to normalize this time before they get into it.
Because again, I think students come in with expectations that things are going to go swimmingly well. And I think it's helpful to prepare themselves, and as a parent with a college student myself, we need to prepare ourselves for our students going through very likely phases of, like, they hit a wall at some point, and they really start to struggle with it, that that's a normal part of a new chapter in our lives. So we want to normalize that for them.
And the more we can normalize that and welcome a conversation around that, the more likely they'll be able to do that self care strategy of being honest about it. But just changes in behavior and ultimately, what I say to faculty and staff, really, what you have to look for is disengagement from the educational process, disengagement from the community here. Because any time we start to pull away from the people around us and the things around us, that's a telltale sign that something less than helpful is starting to go on.
LINDSEY BRAY: And that's really great advice to seeing how our students are working through those things and when they might need a little bit more help. And that's a good conversation to have with your student now, is when is it good to reach out for help and get those necessary resources, and to always take advantage of what we have to offer.
So I asked this of Julie, and you gave us some really great advice earlier too, but do you have any other kind of nudges that parents should give their students as well to stay mentally and physically well while they're at Cornell?
DAVID REETZ: Yeah. Well again, normalizing the challenges that lie ahead. They could experience changes in motivation and what they're interested in. That's a normal part of this life stage. And just creating that environment where it's OK for them to talk.
I think the theme I've heard the most over the years is the fear of disappointment. Students don't want to disappoint their family, the people they care most about. And that's what really drives them holding things in and holding things back. So providing those messages of reassurance, like no matter what happens, we're here for you, we got your back, this is an incredible time of life, it's exciting, there's tremendous opportunity, and there's going to be some challenges along the way. And we're here, we're going to be here through all of that.
I think laying that message out clearly and consistently over time and being careful of any messages that might contradict that as well. Students are very good at picking that up because they're just looking for a safe place to be who they are and how they're evolving, and changing, and thinking differently. So just setting the stage, setting the stage for that ideal relationship and that ideal environment you want as they go into this next chapter of their life. That's
LINDSEY BRAY: That's a wonderful point about that safe space to be who they are and get to have a refuge from the school, and friends, and all of those things that might cause extra stress and being their place. So that's lovely. Thank you so much for that.
And now, Beth, we'd love to turn to you and talk a little bit more about Student Disability Services. Welcome. Thank you so much for joining us as well. Can you tell us a little bit about Student Disability Services and how it serves our students?
BETH PARROTT: Sure I thank you for the opportunity to share with our parents and families today. So Student Disability Services facilitates disability access accommodations for students experiencing disability or health-related symptoms that impact their ability to engage with Cornell's learning or living environments.
So this can be for students who experience permanent or long term disabilities or health conditions, like learning disabilities, chronic medical conditions, some mental health conditions, or students who experience short term symptoms, like illnesses or injuries.
Some students come to campus knowing that they need to connect with Student Disability Services. Others may connect with us once they get here and identify an access need along the way.
LINDSEY BRAY: That's so good to know. Thank you. So can you talk a little bit about what kind of access accommodations are available to students?
BETH PARROTT: So the majority of students registered with our office receive academic accommodations. So this would be anything that might take place in the classroom environment, including exam accommodations. That's a more highly utilized accommodation. But we also provide accommodations for housing.
So when students are experiencing a disability need that impacts their ability to live in our campus housing, they'll want to connect with our office. We also provide dining accommodations for students that might have food allergies or food access needs.
And then lastly, we facilitate transportation accommodations. So for students who are experienced-- it could be either short term or long term mobility-related challenges navigating our campus, they should connect with us for transportation assistance.
LINDSEY BRAY: And that's so good to know that those accommodations are available, whether they are the whole time their student is here or if it's just a temporary one as well. So that's great that your office is able to provide that. So are students required to register with your office. And if so, how does that process work, and how often do they check in with you all so that families can know that?
BETH PARROTT: So students only need to register with us if they wish to formally identify themselves to the university as a student with a disability and request disability accommodations. That said, sometimes students aren't sure. We are always available to meet with students so we can learn a little bit more about their needs, we can share a little bit about how our office might support them.
Some students aren't quite sure what they might need. We're working with a lot of students now who are wanting to get to know our office because they think they might need to connect with us, but they don't know about Cornell yet. They haven't experienced any of their classes yet. They don't know what it's like to navigate our campus. So they want to have that connection to us, but they're not quite ready to work with us to formalize an accommodation plan yet.
So some students will want to connect to us right away, some may not. But either way, if students have any interest or any kind of desire to learn more about access accommodations, we definitely encourage them to review our website. learn a little bit more about how to connect with us, so if that need emerges, they already have that information.
LINDSEY BRAY: That's so great to know. And I know this often throws some families off in terms of accommodations with the difference between that K-through-12 experience versus college. Can you talk a little bit about how that might be a little bit different for their student during college?
BETH PARROTT: Yeah, that's a really great question, Lindsey. So even for students who have received accommodations in the K-through-12 setting, it looks really different on our campus. The most significant difference is it is the responsibility of the student to let us know if they do feel like they need accommodations.
Your instructors might be helpful in referring you to us if they think that you might have a need, but the student is responsible for actually submitting information to our office, working with us to finalize an accommodation plan, and then working directly with their instructors to implement those accommodations. And that's really different from the K-through-12 setting where you might have teachers that are working to have some of those conversations either with the student or for the student. It's a great question.
LINDSEY BRAY: That's really good to for our families as they're helping their student navigate through this in what might be a little bit different than maybe their high school experience along the way. So a couple of questions from the chat that have come up as well is, how long does it usually take once a student registers to hear back from your office? I know you all are getting a lot this summer with all of our new students as well. But usually, how long does that take?
BETH PARROTT: Yeah, great question. So we have a suggested deadline of today, actually, for students who think that they'll need either academic housing, transportation, dining accommodations. We're hearing from a lot of students. So we'll start to review their requests and reach out directly to students with our, whether it be information about how to use their approved accommodations, or maybe we may need additional information to them throughout the summer.
The sooner that we hear from students, the better we can make sure that their plans are in place before they arrive on campus. We will work with students to ensure that for some students there might be some work we want them to do with us over the summer, whether it's having them kind of orienting them to new technology, sharing more about how they're going to arrange, let's say, see you CULift rides. That's our prearranged shuttle service for students that have mobility-related impairments. A lot of that can take place over the summer.
That said, we work with a lot of students who want to settle into their classes a little bit first. So they'll work with us. We might put together maybe a tentative accommodation plan. But then we'll say, go to your classes, get a feel for the format and the structure of your classes, learn more about the expectations you'll have in each of your classes, because that's going to look really different in all of your classes in terms of what types of assignments you have to complete, what types of expectations are around participation or attendance.
So often for those students, we'll say go learn a little bit more, and then let's come back in and reconnect once you have that information, and now we can talk a little bit more specifically. There are some students that will use the same accommodations for the entirety of their time at Cornell in all of their classes. There are other students who might need certain things for some classes but not for others. Or for some students, it might look really different from semester to semester depending on how their symptoms impact them.
So we work with students differently. There are some students who we might work with at the start of the semester. We put their plans in place, and we don't see them again until the following semester when they come back into check in. Other students might check in with us a little bit more regularly as we're trying to fine tune or revise their accommodation plan, or maybe they're experiencing a new or emerging need, and we need to work through that together. It looks really differently for all students.
LINDSEY BRAY: That's really great to know for our students and their families. I know that gets a little bit of anxiety around that time and those questions as well. So that's important to know. So thank you for that. And so as I asked Julie and David, can you tell us what nudges that parents can give to their students to keep them mentally and physically healthy while they're at Cornell? What are your suggestions?
BETH PARROTT: I love this question. I think one of the best things that you can do for your students, if you haven't done so already, is really have some intentional conversations with them now about what types and supports and services they might need while at Cornell.
Have them think about what types of supports they're already utilizing. Because sometimes what happens is students don't always realize the things that maybe mom and dad are doing for them, or the things that teachers are doing for them. And help them think through what types of things they might need to seek out.
It can be more maybe basic things, like if you are prescribed a medication, what is our plan for managing this medication? Refilling your own prescriptions, for example, making your own health care appointments. For some students, it's that time away from home that is the first time they're really doing that. So getting them to really think through what that looks like for them.
Talk to them about what academic supports they utilized in high school. Maybe it's checking in with teachers regularly or utilizing tutoring services. What does that look like on our campus and how might you need to connect with those things if you feel like you need them when you're at Cornell?
Your students are going to receive a lot of information over the next few weeks. I think one of the best things that you can do with them is continue to check in with them about those resources or to remind them about the supports that exist. Because if you're a student who is experiencing some stress of orienting to a new environment, getting used to the pace or the rigor of your classes, sometimes you just don't have the headspace to think about what supports are available to you.
It can take a reminder from a family member to say, remember you learned about this, or I recall learning about tutoring services or Cornell Health services. Have you checked that out or might that be a good idea? Some encouragement to seek out some of those services is always a great idea.
LINDSEY BRAY: Those are great pieces of advice. Thank you for those for our families as they're kind of helping our students along the way. OK, So now for our for our last panelist. Lyn thank you so much for joining us as well. So your office is over our student health benefits and that health insurance that our families are always usually pretty anxious about too. So can you tell us a little bit about that and how your office serves students?
LYN ABBASS: Absolutely, Lindsey. Thank you for inviting our office as well to be a part of this discussion. I will say that our office probably has the least interesting things to talk about. I mean, it's not like Dave, and Julie, and Beth who have these really interesting, awesome programs to offer.
But we are here to serve students, either helping them to enroll in Cornell student health insurance plans, which our health insurance plan is there's one plan offered to students, undergrads and graduate students, that is an Aetna PPO plan that is a Platinum Plus plan. So it is a very rich network plan that provides coverage throughout the US and abroad.
But our office also is there to help those students who have their own family insurance and want to opt out of Cornell's insurance plan in favor of their own insurance plan. So there is a process to do this. It is an annual process. And it is important to be aware of the timeliness of submitting documentation.
And before I go into that, it's also really important to note that the Office of Student Health Benefits is not part of Cornell Health. It's confusing. Our names are similar. We are not even in the same department or division of the university. So we are two very separate entities. In addition, things that often get confused is there is a student health fee that is issued by Cornell Health, and there is the cost of the student health insurance plan, and they are two separate items.
The health fee is mandatory for all students registered on the Ithaca campus. The health insurance is completely tied to that enrollment in the Cornell student health plan. If your family has their own private insurance, and it meets university requirements, and I'll tell you a little bit about the university requirements in just a moment, the student can submit a waiver to opt out of enrollment. There is a link to do this on the new student to-do list.
Also I believe is going to put a link to the Gallagher site, which is where students go. That is our enrollment and waiver platform. And students can log in there using their Cornell credentials to submit a waiver. The requirements to opt out of Cornell student health plan are essentially that the student has to have comprehensive coverage in Ithaca.
So it has to be an insurance plan that does not just merely provide emergency and urgent care coverage in Ithaca. You must have coverage for things like diagnostic testing and lab work, inpatient and outpatient mental health. You have to be able to see specialists. Cornell Health is an amazing facility with wonderful providers, but there may be additional needs that your student has and they need to be able to access care in Ithaca.
Ithaca is unique in that it is very much a rural area. We have one hospital in the entire county. So individuals who are coming from larger cities are used to having a bit more choice in where they may want to go to access their health care. And in Ithaca, it can be a little limited because of our rural nature, and especially because most students, our new students and our freshmen, often don't have transportation with them. So it's important that they have access to care here in the Ithaca area.
So essentially, our office helps you to either enroll or to opt out.
LINDSEY BRAY: And that's so good to know as an overview for our families of what health insurance is like. So as you mentioned, so the requirements for our students, you touched on this a little bit, but if you don't mind going into it a little bit more. So why is our health insurance really required for students? Why do we make sure that all of our students have to have it?
LYN ABBASS: So Cornell has decreed for many years that they do have very specific health insurance requirements. We are a university that it is an opt out situation, not an opt in situation for health insurance. And that requirement was set in place partially because of our rural nature and also because it is important to the university as a whole that students, that their health care and their health needs do not create a barrier to their education. We want them to be successful students, successful individuals, and we don't want there to be a barrier to their health care.
So having adequate health insurance, which may or may not be our student insurance plan, is important. And again, it's been set by this University since 1974 by the board of trustees. So this is not a new situation for Cornell. And again, we are at a university that requires you to opt out or you will be auto-enrolled in the student health plan. So it is important if you have a family plan that you do submit the waiver.
The deadline to submit a waiver is July 31. And I will go a little bit more in depth into the requirements. So again, as I said, essentially, you have to have comprehensive care. You have to have a plan that has more than urgent and emergent care in the area. If your plan if your family plan is an HMO plan, you want to be ensured that you do have coverage in this area.
HMO and EPO plans are typically-- they are geographically limited, so you want to make sure that there are participating providers in Ithaca for your student. It's also important to know that when you're looking at the waiver, and you're looking at your own family plan, the difference between if Cornell Health is participating with your insurance and having participating providers in the community is different.
So as Julie and David have clearly mentioned, students have access to Cornell Health regardless of the health insurance plan that they are coming to Cornell with. So all students have access to health care visits for that $10 health fee co-pay that Julie and David mentioned.
But what is important is to know that you have coverage in the area as well. So if your student twisted their ankle, and they came to Cornell Health to be seen to see, gosh, is that broken, they may get an X-ray at Cornell Health, and someone says, well, this is a little wobbly. You might want to go to PT. We can set you up for that. Again, the student will have access to that. But if the X-ray comes back that it's broken, and the student needs to see an orthopedist or look at an orthopedic surgeon, it's important that you have coverage in the area.
The Cornell-- I'm trying to look at some of the questions that are coming up because they are really important and help drive where the discussion needs to go. So yes, your health insurance, the health insurance coverage is not-- the health insurance plan itself is not covered by financial aid. The health fee which is, again, associated with Cornell Health directly at 250 a semester, if your student is on financial aid, that is built into their financial aid packet as cost of attendance.
The cost of the health insurance plan, the Aetna PPO health insurance plan, is not included in financial aid. So there are loans students can take if they would like to. But again, if your family plan covers your students locally, between the health fee and your family plan, your student should be well established and should have access to care here in the area, and you can submit that waiver.
And the waiver process is done initially when your student enters. We are doing something new this year for the first time. And we are starting a situation where we are going to annually take the information that you put in the first year your student attended and use that information and verify it for active coverage each semester.
So if your student submits a waiver, say, in July of this year, and it's proven that your insurance plan meets the university requirements, it's active, it's in place, and your waiver is approved, and you're not enrolled in the student health plan. In January, we will rerun that information for active coverage. So we'll use the same information that your student input in the fall and make sure that the plan is still active in January.
If it's still active in January, that waiver will again be approved, and your student will not be enrolled or billed for the student health plan. It is really important that your student watch communications from our office, the Office of Student Health Benefits, as well as from Gallagher Student Health and Risk. Gallagher is our vendor, and they are the ones who automatically review those insurance plans to make sure it meets the requirements.
Will I be able to use Cornell health insurance out of state? If you choose, if your student is enrolled in the student health plan, yes. The plan provides coverage with an Aetna network throughout the US. And for your students who want to study abroad, it also provides coverage outside the US at the in-network rate.
So that's really important to know. If your family plan doesn't provide international coverage, that you may want to choose for the year that your student is studying abroad, it may be that you waive three years, but you choose to enroll in the student health plan for one year.
Let's see, Lindsey. I know there's lots of questions popping up, and I want to make sure I address them, because I know this is such a hot topic because it's a cost. And we know that that's why it's important. If you need it, it's important. But if you don't need it because your family plan works, it's also important that your student waive. I want to reiterate, the waiver deadline is July 31. And the links to that are on the new student to-do list. That's really important to remember.
LINDSEY BRAY: So there are a couple of questions around access and being comprehensive enough. And we will drop in the link for the comparison. But that's also an option for our families as well, is they can compare their current plan as an option.
There are a couple of questions about certain coverages not being available. That would also be part of that to check, correct, that they would just need to check and see if their insurance is covered in the area?
LYN ABBASS: Yeah, the best way for you to really check to see there is a great comparison tool that will be added to the chat box. But it's important, call your HR department. If it's a family plan that's an employer plan, call your HR department, call the customer service number on your insurance card, and ask them. Say, hey, my child is going away to school. I need to know that they're covered for more than just emergencies and urgent care where they are attending school.
Ithaca is very unique. We have one hospital in the entire county, as I said. So you might want to check to make sure that Cayuga Medical Center, which is the one hospital, and their associates are part of your insurance plan so that your student does have access to care if they need it. Does that address the question you were asking, Lindsey?
LINDSEY BRAY: Yes, it does. Yeah, I think that helps our families understand that way that they can go in and compare it. Because unfortunately, on this call, we're not able to fully go into each and every medical plan. But we can definitely get you all to the resources that will help to allow you all to check that. And you've got a little bit of time to check it, but make sure you submit that waiver.
And as you said too, there are ways for students to just take this on for a smaller period of time if they are traveling abroad. I know there was a question in there about one semester.
LYN ABBASS: I can say, let me try-- I know that I want to get to that. I know our time is-- we're done. But if you are, to address the individual's question, if you're changing insurance with your employer as of January, your student can enroll in the student health plans for the fall and then submit a termination of coverage. A termination of coverage can be submitted at any time during the academic year and it is a prorated enrollment in the student health plan.
And it's always important, if you have questions, contact our office. We have a staff who is here to help you through this process, whether it's now, or if you lose coverage in the future, we're here to help you get through the waiver, understand it, and to answer your questions about our insurance plan too if it is the option that's best for you.
And again, remember, Cornell Health and the student health plan, we work as a team, but we're not the same office. So if you have questions about the insurance, give us a call. We're happy to help you.
LINDSEY BRAY: Yeah we'll drop the links in there as well. All right. So we're coming to the end of this time. So thank you all so much for joining us. But one last question as we kind of wrap up that I always like to ask anyone who comes on and joins us. So are there any last pieces of advice that you have for our families as they really help their students get ready to come to Cornell, whether it's related to your office or just in general that you've worked with students. Lyn, do you mind starting us off?
LYN ABBASS: Absolutely. I would say this is a great opportunity for an educational opportunity for possibly you and your students to understand how insurance works. So many times, even as adults, we don't understand co-pays, coinsurance, what an in-network provider looks like. This is a great educational opportunity to really understand how your insurance works and where it works.
LINDSEY BRAY: That's a great point. Beth, do you want to go next?
BETH PARROTT: I think I'll just say, there are so many people here in our Cornell community dedicated to helping your students find support and find success. Please encourage them to connect with all of us and to take advantage of the many, many resources and supports that are available to them.
LINDSEY BRAY: And David? You gave us some great advice earlier too.
DAVID REETZ: I just want to say that we cannot be more excited to have your students with us for the next several years. And you have made an outstanding choice in choosing Cornell Health and Cornell University. So thank you so much.
LINDSEY BRAY: And Julie, last but certainly not least.
JULIE EDWARDS: Really, I just want to recognize that this is an incredibly exciting time, and it can also be nerve wracking. And so just recognizing that, and that you and your students will most likely have many ups and downs throughout this entire journey. And just please know that we have so many resources that exist not just within Cornell Health, but also across Cornell University. And so we are so excited to have your student coming here. And if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us. But thank you for participating today.
LINDSEY BRAY: Yes, thank you all so, so much for joining us today and sharing your expertise and insights with our families. They really do appreciate it along the way. So families, thank you again so much for joining us. We really appreciate this. This session has been recorded and you can always come back to this at any time if you've got questions, or need a refresher, or anything like that. It'll be linked on our Parent Family Program's website and in the next edition of Becoming Big Red Cornell First Year Families newsletter.
So we hope you can join us next week. We've got three weeks in a row coming up. So our next one is June the 22nd for our housing and dining conversation. So we hope you can join us for that one. So if you ever have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to my office, to me at email@example.com, or you can always visit our website for more resources that we have available to you.
I will stick around and try and answer some of the other questions in the chat, but thank you all so much for joining us, and we really appreciate it. So thank you so much, panelists.
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The Becoming Big Red: Cornell First-Year Families Conversation Series is hosted by the Cornell University Office of Parent & Family Programs. Our topic is Health and Wellbeing at Cornell. Joined by Julie Edwards, Director of the Skorton Center for Health Initiatives, Beth Parrott, Interim Director of Student Disability Services and Disability Access Consultant and David Reetz, Director of Counseling and Psychological Services, and Lyn Abbass, Senior Program and Member Specialist in the Office of Student Health Benefits we discussed the services available to students from Cornell Health, the Student Health Plan and the requirements for students and how families can support their student with their physical and mental health.