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The Changing Face of SMU's Student Health and Counseling Center

Pictured, from left to right.  Back row:  Tiffany Wong, Dr. Angelina Chau, Von Hoang and Shirley Cheung.<br />  Sitting: Dr. Anglyn Sasser, Dr. Jeanne Zeamba and Crystal Crawford.
Pictured, from left to right Back row: Tiffany Wong, Dr. Angelina Chau, Von Hoang and Shirley Cheung. Sitting: Dr. Anglyn Sasser, Dr. Jeanne Zeamba and Crystal Crawford.

The Student Health and Counseling Center at Samuel Merritt University (SMU) is undergoing a transformation with a new director, a renovated facility and plans to expand services.

The upgraded center, located in Suite 3105 at 3100 Telegraph Ave. in Oakland, also has a new name — The SHAC (student health and counseling). The moniker was the winning entry by DPM student Tara Harrington in a naming contest sponsored by the center.

SMU alumna Dr. Angelina Chau is the new director of the center and serves as its sole clinician. Chau, who earned a master’s degree from SMU’s Family Nurse Practitioner Program in 2007 and a doctorate in nursing practice from Duke University in 2012, calls herself a “change agent.”

“I have a great team that is very supportive and receptive to new ideas, as well as two great bosses that give me lots of freedom to explore new ways to improve on our current system,” she says.

With the goal of developing a state-of-the-art center, Chau plans to implement electronic health records, dispense low-cost medication, create a holistic wellness center, and provide a training ground for future healthcare providers.

The center has expanded its hours and is now open Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Instead of operating as a walk-in clinic, the health center is offering same-day or next-day appointments that can be scheduled by calling 510-869-6629. The appointment system is designed to ensure minimal wait time, reduce office congestion, and ensure student’s privacy. Non-urgent appointments will continue to be available to students throughout the week.

Chau is working with a local pharmaceutical company to offer low-cost prescription medications to SMU students.  She says the cost of some medications — including the most frequently prescribed antibiotics and birth control pills — could be as low as an insurance co-pay and will provide students with the convenience of picking up their medication during office visits.  Students will still have the option of receiving a prescription and having it filled at an outside pharmacy.

Other members of the team at the Student Health and Counseling Center include associate director and psychologist Dr. Jeanne Zeamba, staff psychologist Dr. Anglyn Sasser, student health coordinator Crystal Crawford, and three part-time student assistants: Tiffany Wong, Shirley Cheung, and Von Hoang.  Soon, FNP and counseling interns will join the team.

Mental health services available at the center include individual, couples and group counseling, all designed to address the concerns that students experience around issues such as academic stress, anxiety, depression, relationships, family, sexual identity and addiction. 

“We work to help students better understand this period in their lives and find healthier ways to cope with their concerns, function more effectively in the college environment and accomplish their personal and academic goals,” says Zeamba. 

Another change planned at the Student Health and Counseling Center is an improved website that will include pages on sexual violence, current issues in medicine and healthcare, and public health issues such as the most recent Centers for Disease Control recommendations about the participation of students with hepatitis B in medical, dental, nursing, and other health-related programs.

Chau says she is thrilled to return to SMU: “I am so excited for the opportunity to come home and serve in the university that I absolutely adore.”