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About Us

Director's Welcome
History of the Center

Dr. Chris P. Holstege, MD, Executive Director
Welcome from the Executive Director of Student Health,
Chris P. Holstege, M.D.

Dear UVA Student,

Here at the Department of Student Health, we provide you with high quality and confidential health care. We know as a student you will face many challenges and choices and believe that your academic success and participation in extracurricular activities require good health. Our goals are to help you maintain your health through education and prevention and to restore your health when necessary by treatment of illness, injury, or stress. As your partner in wellness, we want to increase your appreciation of the importance of healthful behaviors, assist you in developing self-care skills and learn how to be an effective consumer of health care resources.

Our clinicians are both care-providers and teachers. Not only do we regard each patient encounter as an opportunity to affect your health attitudes and behaviors, but we’re also involved in the formal education of undergraduates, medical students, graduate students and medical residents in a variety of specialty areas. The trainees working in our facility are closely supervised by a permanent member of our staff.

Our Health Promotion Office offers programs on several health issues throughout the Grounds. You can also schedule an individual meeting with one of our staff members or a trained Peer Health Educator.

If you become ill or if you have questions or concerns you would like to discuss with a physician, psychologist, social worker, nurse practitioner, or triage nurse please make an appointment to see one of our care providers. We’ll assist you in recognizing when care or treatment is needed, provide primary care, or help you obtain specialized care if required.

You’re the reason we’re here, and we welcome your use of the resources we offer. We appreciate hearing from you regarding our services and encourage your active involvement with the Student Health Insurance Committee. On behalf of the entire staff, we’d like to contribute to your enjoyment and academic success as a UVA student.

Chris P. Holstege, M.D.
Executive Director

History of the Elson Student Health Center

  • By an act of the Commonwealth's General Assembly on February 21, 1818, funds were appropriated for the establishment of the University of Virginia and a planning board, the Board of Commissioners, was appointed to find a site, plan buildings, establish branches of learning, number of faculty, and other general provisions. The Board of Commissioners, chaired by Thomas Jefferson, met at a tavern at Rockfish Gap in the Blue Ridge August 1-4, 1818, to deliberate these objectives. The proceedings of this meeting were published by Mr. Jefferson, in what are referred to as the Rockfish Gap documents. In his late '70's at the time, Mr. Jefferson eloquently outlined his vision for the University. In the documents he describes the goals of education (see attached).

  • 1830's to 1930's student health services were delivered by medical school faculty. An infirmary was built in the 1850's and used for inpatient care until the University Hospital was constructed in 1903. Fee for service ($1.00 per visit) was replaced in the 1850's with a health fee ($5 - 1857; $7.50 - 1869) which covered all services.

  • The Department of Student Health was established in 1938 and housed in the Entrance Building. Over the next 40 years enrollment increased from 5,000 post-war to 16,500 in 1979 and women first matriculated in 1970. The changes in enrollment and demographics mandated increase in staff to nearly 45 FTE's and requirement for a larger and more comprehensive ambulatory care facility. A new building was opened in the fall of 1989.

  • During the late 1970's and 1980's the mission of the Departments shifted from the primarily episodic care to a more preventive model. This resulted in the development of a peer-based health promotion and education program as well as greater emphasis on disease prevention and health promotion in the clinical areas. General medicine has been instrumental in providing acute care but has also become active in addressing lifestyle/behavior issues for students, providing sports and travel medicine services, and supporting the University's immunization requirements. Women's health services have developed over the last 32 years to include contraceptive services as well as screening, treatment, and education for gynecologic disorders. Behavioral health services have evolved to a much more comprehensive model including the provision of psychiatric assessments, short-term psychotherapy, group therapy, crisis intervention, psychiatric consultation, and referral services.

  • In the last 22 years student health faculty and staff have become heavily committed to supporting the teaching and research missions of the Health Sciences Center and the University.

  • Since 1993, a common departmental goal of achieving national accreditation has prompted the organization to develop a quality improvement plan, formal credentialing, focused clinical privileges, medical staff bylaws, administrative policies and procedures, as well as a safety program. Broad staff support of the accreditation process represents the organizational commitment to excellence and continued improvement. JCAHO's evolution to functional standards in the late 90's led to further modification of the department's performance improvement plan, committee structure, and data collection/analysis processes.

  • 1995 heralded the next major phase of organizational evolution including the development and integration of a managed care health plan for students in collaboration with the University of Virginia Health System. This resulted in major refinements in administrative support for Student Health and significant changes in the roles and responsibilities for clinicians.

  • In 1996, the Vice President for Student Affairs merged the University's Counseling Center under Student Health. This was done in order to provide a single point of entry for students with psychological symptoms, standardize intake, assessment, and medical record procedures, solidify funding sources under the health fee, improve the Learning Needs and Evaluation Center, and to plan for expansion of the Student Health physical plant to accommodate the new Center for Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS).

  • 1996-1997 included planning for and completion of a major addition and renovation project. This included a 17,000 square foot addition to accommodate CAPS and renovations of internal space including the pharmacy, general medicine, gynecology, office space, and new clinical swing space. The project was concluded in the summer of 1999.

  • As a result of several cases of meningococcal meningitis in the mid-1990's, highly publicized alcohol related deaths among college students, increasingly important annual epidemics of influenza, and increasing concern about depression/suicide among college student, Student Health initiated new public health initiatives including:

    • An immunization program for both meningococcal disease and influenza resulting in a significant increase in immunization rates among students and documented declines in the respective diseases.
    • Social norms marketing program to prevent abusive use of alcohol resulting in documented falling rates of alcohol use among subgroups of students.
    • Development of a suicide prevention program which assures expedited identification of students at risk and training of University staff about recognition of students at risk. Several parameters monitored by CAPS suggest this program is meeting its goals.
  • 1997-2001 brought the development of a new information technology system, which contributed to automation of several administrative and clinical processes in addition to creation and meaningful databases to track epidemiologic trends among the patient population.

  • 2008 brings new challenges including a fifth JCAHO reaccreditation visit.


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