This Happened to Me

When I was 19, I was feeling out of it, and had extremely swollen lymph-nodes.

I went to my college health services, and they said that it was nothing to worry about, it was just allergies. (It was fairly classic mononucleosis symptoms, which is one thing that college health services should catch, but they didn’t)

8 months later, and my pre-employment physical, ironically at a hospital working with blood samples, they detected that my eosinophil count was through the roof, and after a number of tests, they determined that I had hepatitis.

I was in treatment for about 3 years afterwards, first with steroids, and then immune suppressants. (My liver numbers have been good for about 35 years)

If they hadn’t caught it, I would probably been in liver failure in a decade, because I was otherwise asymptomatic. (Well, I did lose some weight, see this picture from my employee ID at New England Medical Center)

My Best Picture Ever

Well, now the Washington Post has taken a look at college health centers, and found a profoundly troubling standard of care:

After days of sharp pain shooting up her left abdomen, Rose Wong hobbled from her history class to the student health center at Duke University.

A nurse pressed on the 20-year-old’s belly and told her it felt like gas. Wong questioned the diagnosis but said the nurse dismissed her doubts and sent her to the campus pharmacy to pick up Gas-X that afternoon in February 2019.

The next morning, Wong doubled over in pain, and a roommate drove her to a nearby emergency room in Durham, N.C. In the hospital, doctors discovered her condition was far more serious: Her left kidney had a massive hemorrhage. The bleeding, she later learned, was caused by a cancerous tumor that required surgery and chemotherapy and forced her to miss an entire school year.

Wong said she worries that when she returns to the Duke campus next month, the university and its medical clinic will be incapable of keeping her and 15,500 other Duke students healthy and safe in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

Except for the severity of the actual condition, this exactly mirrors my experience.


Wong’s misdiagnosis at Duke is among the scores of problems documented by The Washington Post at college health centers nationwide. As millions go back to school during the pandemic, the ability of campus health services to safeguard and care for students will be tested as never before — and many colleges appear unprepared for the challenge.

To assess the landscape of student health services at roughly 1,700 four-year residential campuses, The Post interviewed more than 200 students, parents and health officials and examined thousands of pages of medical records and court documents and 5,500 reviews of student health centers posted on Google.

College students reported they commonly waited days or weeks for appointments and were routinely provided lackluster care. Dozens of students ended up hospitalized — and some near death — for mistakes they said were made at on-campus clinics, including misdiagnosed cases of appendicitis at Kansas State University and meningitis at the University of Arkansas.


Student health centers are akin to the Wild West of medical care. There are no national regulations, and most are not licensed by states. Only about 220 campus medical clinics of the thousands nationwide are accredited by outside health organizations as meeting best practices, according to a Post analysis. In one case, Georgetown University stated on its website that its student health center was accredited but removed the claim after being asked about it by reporters.

Georgetown lied about the accreditation of its health services?


University leaders are publicly lobbying for federal protections from coronavirus-related lawsuits when they reopen, arguing that costly litigation would take away from already scarce resources needed to support students.

College health officials, meanwhile, are privately discussing insufficient stockpiles of personal protective equipment, inadequate access to coronavirus testing on campus and a short supply of rooms to quarantine students, according to interviews, emails and presentations reviewed by The Post.


In an email last year, the chief executive of the American College Health Association cautioned members about sharing information with The Post and referenced its reporting about a viral outbreak at the University of Maryland. The association later said the message was sent to inform colleges and took no position on whether universities should comply with the requests.

This is what comes from running colleges like business, and hiring legions of overpaid management types to run them.

Leave a Reply