Katelynn Singleton, news editor
On Sept. 28, the Berry College Health Center sent an email to all students informing them that Emma Cordle, the Health Center’s director and nurse practitioner, would no longer be at Berry on a full-time basis.
Cordle began working part-time at the Health Center until 2018, when she accepted a full-time position. Before Cordle accepted the position, there was not a full-time nurse practitioner at the Health Center. Previously, there had been two registered nurses, which limited the Health Center in what they could offer. Nurse practitioners generally have more autonomy in what they can provide, such as the ability to diagnose and treat illnesses, order tests and prescribe long-term medications. Registered nurses are able to provide prescriptions for small injuries and illnesses.
Once Cordle was full-time, the Health Center had the ability to prescribe medications, manage long-term medications and schedule women’s health appointments. Melanie Merrin, the assistant director of the Health Center, says that those are services the Health Center wants to continue.
“We definitely want to continue to make that available, we don’t want to take a step back,” Merrin said.
The Health Center is currently looking for another nurse practitioner to take over Cordle’s position to ensure that the services provided can remain. Dr. James Douglas, the medical director for the Health Center, plans to stay. Students are able to see Dr. Douglas during the week either during his extended hours on Thursday, or at certain hours on Tuesday. Dr. Douglas also makes appointments slots available at his practice in Rome for Berry students who need a service that the Health Center can’t provide.
Cordle continues to fill in at the Health Center occasionally, although Merrin said that students should plan ahead due to this new absence.
“I sent out a notice to everyone that we were going to have a little lag time here,” Merrin said. “Hopefully people will plan ahead as far as medication refills and not wait till they were almost out.”
Merrin said that both her and Dr. Douglas’s schedules are full so that every student can be seen. Merrin also said that because a lot of students make appointments just for a COVID-19 test, there are “walk-in” COVID tests. Tests are currently available for students who may need them.
“If that’s all you want, you don’t want to be seen by a nurse, you just want to get a COVID test, we made that available,” Merrin said. “You get a little 15-minute appointment to get a COVID test.”
Berry began accepting applications for the new director several weeks before Cordle’s last day. Merrin said that because the environment is so unique, not every nurse practitioner has experience that would benefit them in this setting. However, Merrin said there have been several practitioners who have already gone through phone interviews. Merrin said that the in-person interviews will begin next week and continue into the following week. Due to the importance of this position, the hiring process can be quite long, with multiple interviews, including a student panel and administrator panel.
“It’s not a quick turnover, but we want to make sure we get the right person,” Merrin said.