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History Highlights of the NIU Health Services
Health Services (HS) has expanded through the years from a single nurse providing first aid, to an outpatient clinic with infirmary, to a complete outpatient medical facility.
From 1912-1916, one nurse provided health care for the students in cooperation with a physician from the community. From 1917-1930, there is no mention in university documents of health services available to the students.
In 1930, when the school enrollment was 760, a nurse with a background in home economics and health education became the Director of Health Services and Residence Hall Assistant in charge of Dining Services. Community physicians were consulted as needed.
A physician was on staff from 1936-1942, at which time he went into military service. From 1942-1948, nurses again provided the care in collaboration with a local physician. In 1948, a physician joined two nurses and a secretary to comprise the Health Services staff.
In 1959, Health Services moved to the building just north of its present location. Two physicians were on staff at that time.
In 1961, evening hours were added, and in 1964, 24-hour care was provided. Four cots were available for patient observation. A student health insurance plan was initiated by the university in 1964. By 1967, seven physicians were employed to keep up with the rapid expansion of the university.
In 1968, Health Services moved to the present building on Wirtz Drive. Ancillary services (x-ray, lab, pharmacy, and physical therapy) were added over the next two years. The infirmary opened with 37 beds and was operated similar to a hospital. Food was prepared in one of the “dormitories" and transported in food carts to the infirmary, where hot food was reheated before being served. Students with serious conditions were sent to the local hospital. A mental health unit also opened with one psychologist.
By 1972, medical appointments, walk-in care, immunizations, injuries, and gynecology, as well as a nurse-operated, cold care clinic, were established. A psychiatrist was added to the staff during the mid-1970s. In the late 1970s, eight staff nurses completed additional training at Brigham Young University to become nurse practitioners.
During the 1980s, the staff psychologists were relocated to the Counseling and Student Development Center. Services added in the 1980s included: formal health education, and sports medicine services for NCAA athletes. Campus services for students with disabilities were incorporated into Health Services operations. Infirmary services were replaced by limited overnight nursing services with a physician on-call. Health Services became the compliance office for state-mandated, pre-enrollment immunization verification.
From 1990-1994, Health Services was required to vacate its building for asbestos abatement. Services were temporarily relocated to other campus and off-campus sites, with a university shuttle service providing student transport. Also during the 1990s, Health Services Lab was initially certified as a high-complexity lab under CLIA (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment), and on-site gynecologist services were added.