The University of Idaho’s newly reopened and renamed Vandal Health Clinic has concluded its first week of serving students and staff on campus after more than a year away.

University health care services are managed by Moscow Family Medicine, which was integrated into Gritman Medical Center’s clinic network late last year. With the loss of three local physicians last year, UI was left without an in-house provider and forced to temporarily relocate health care to off-campus sites.

But after launching a major recruitment effort, Gritman recently hired five new doctors, enabling them to once again provide a full-time physician to UI’s campus clinic.

Gritman Spokesman Peter Mundt said this partnership deepens ties between two of the biggest employers in Moscow that go back well over a century.

“Students and faculty and staff, if they’ve ever needed health care from the hospital, they’d come to Gritman since 1897,” Mundt said. “This is kind of the next evolution of that because it tightens this integration and we now have this physical space on campus where we’re integrating care here through Moscow Family Medicine with Gritman’s hospital services.”

The Vandal Health Clinic is located in the same facilities at 831 Ash St. that housed student health services in the past — though the space has been subject to a modest facelift in preparation for its reopening. University officials said the clinic will now offer care to employees in addition to students and their dependents.

Dr. Jacob Christensen, who, with the help of physician assistant Jake Blazzard, will run the practice, said in this first week, he has seen mostly coughs and colds and administered the occasional flu shot. Christensen, who specializes in sports medicine, said he also now helps student-athletes at the facilities.

Christensen said the importance of an on-campus location is difficult to overstate. He said it not only allows for quick access to health services for students with busy schedules, but most students are more likely to seek care when it’s conveniently located.

“When you don’t feel good, you don’t want to be schlepping your way across town — you’d rather just be able to come to a closer location,” Christensen said. “(If) it’s something minor that they wouldn’t otherwise go to the doctor for, they’re more likely to come in for something that they have a question about that might affect their health later on if it’s easy.”

Alexandra Duggin, who studies psychology at UI, agreed, saying without easy access, students will delay seeing a physician, which effects not only their health, but possibly their grades. She said for most classes, students only have so many unexcused absences before it starts to impact their grade. Without conveniently located health services, they’re less likely to seek care and receive a doctor’s note to get their absence excused, even when they’re legitimately sick.

“I think it’s just good for students that don’t have the means of transportation, which I know a lot of students here don’t,” she said. “Honestly, most students I know, if they don’t have a ride somewhere, they just won’t go — if they need a doctor and they just don’t have a ride to get there, then they won’t go to get the care that they need.”


Scott Jackson can be reached at (208) 883-4636, or by email to sjackson@dnews.com.

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