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Northern Illinois University has entered into an agreement to have Northwestern Medicine assume management of the university’s Health Services. The NIU Board of Trustees voted to support the agreement in a special meeting Nov. 15.
“We are excited to enter into a partnership with one the most respected health care systems in the nation,” said Wheeler Coleman, chair of the NIU Board of Trustees. “Northwestern has the expertise to not only provide excellent care for our students, but also to successfully navigate the constantly changing health care landscape.”
Starting Jan. 15, 2019, Northwestern Medicine will manage NIU’s campus clinic to provide high-quality outpatient health care similar to that at an urgent care facility or primary care physician’s office. The clinic will be staffed by medical professionals with years of experience providing the services currently offered by Health Services, all of which will still be offered. Northwestern Medicine also will provide an expanded menu of clinical services and more flexible hours. Walk-in service also will be available, a departure from the appointment-only model currently in place.
Northwestern Medicine will meet with NIU officials at least quarterly to ensure that the staffing levels at the clinic and the types of services available are optimized to meet the needs of the student community.
Should students require specialty care beyond the scope of the clinic, the arrangement creates the opportunity for students to be referred to specialists within the Northwestern Medicine system. They also will benefit from having electronic health care records that can be instantly viewed at any Northwestern Medicine facility, allowing for greater continuity of care. As is currently the case, services utilized outside the clinic must be covered by the student’s own insurance.
One of the unique innovations included in this agreement is the creation of a pilot program allowing NIU students to receive the services available to them on campus at Northwestern Medicine clinics in Chicago and Naperville, beginning in August 2019.
Northern Illinois University President Lisa Freeman praised the new partnership.
“The health and well-being of our students is a top priority. This new arrangement will ensure that they not only receive excellent care on campus, but also allow them to easily utilize the full range of medical services offered by Northwestern Medicine,” Freeman said. “This includes several of the top-rated hospitals in the state and sought-after specialists in many concentrations.”
Under the agreement approved Thursday, NIU will pay Northwestern Medicine $1.9 million a year, using funds from the Student Health Fee assessed to students on a per-credit-hour basis. That fee is proposed to be reduced about 5 percent, starting next academic year. The change also represents a savings of about $400,000 a year for the university.
“This is a unique opportunity that saves the university money and allows us to reduce costs while providing outstanding service,” said NIU Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Sarah McGill.
A representative for Northwestern Medicine, which already operates two hospitals and several clinics in DeKalb County, says the company is excited to extend its offerings to the NIU campus.
“Our top priority is to offer world-class health care services to the local community,” said Jay Anderson, president of Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital. “The student population at NIU is a vital and vibrant segment of the DeKalb community and we are proud to extend our services to meet the university’s health needs.”