One girl's experience at the campus health center
She goes in with symptoms and they send her home with 7 Up. Here's how the student recounted her experience with the campus health center. In an email the other day, she also promised to send more details of the story as it develops. Here's her story from The Daily Campus:
There are some misconceptions about Toxic Shock Syndrome — like you can’t get it if you don’t leave your tampon in too long, or that only women get it. Toxic Shock Syndrome happens when an open wound gets a certain type of bacteria that everyone has inside of it, and starts to poison your entire body and shut down your organs.
That is what happened to me over the summer. I was taking summer courses when I came down with what I could tell was a pretty high fever. I then became so weak that I couldn’t even climb into my bed in Snider Hall. I ended up spending that night on the floor in the bathroom. The next morning I decided to go to the Memorial Health Center. The problem was, I was too weak to get there on my own.
I called the SMU Police Department, because they will help you get places on campus when you are injured or don’t feel safe. After first being told that they couldn’t help me get to the health center, I finally convinced someone to come escort me there. I tried getting someone from the health center to come help me first, but they never answered the phone.
When I got to the health center they took my temperature — 104 — and blood pressure — 60/44. They didn’t tell me how high my fever was or that my blood pressure was so low it was possible I wasn’t getting oxygen to my brain. They just gave me Tylenol for my fever and some 7 Up and had me lay in the health center until they closed, while they had three doctors, including the director of the health center, and two nurses unsuccessfully try to give me an IV eight times. When they closed, they put me in a wheelchair [and] left me in my empty dorm room, even though I had every symptom of Toxic Shock Syndrome in extremity. They should have sent me to the hospital upon first arriving there that day.
Later that night, I called the University Park Paramedics, because I was having difficulty breathing. I told them what I knew — that I had a fever, that I had been throwing up and had diarrhea, and that I had been drinking lots of ginger ale and juice since I got back from the health center. They gave me an IV and asked if I wanted to go to the hospital. Since I had no insurance or money, I asked them if I needed to go. They told me no, that the hospital would only give me another IV and that I would be fine if I just drank a lot of water, and I signed the paper they gave me. I later found out that they claimed I refused transport against medical advice. I may be poor, but I’m smart, and if I were told I needed to go to the hospital, I would have gone instantly.
The next afternoon, I went to Lake Point Hospital, and thanks to the amazing doctors who treated me and figured out what was wrong in time, I survived. But, they told me that if I had gotten there 30 minutes later, I would have died. If I had been sent to the hospital 24 hours later I would not have had such a horrible case — one of the worst ever in North Texas. I missed the rest of summer classes, and if I hadn’t recovered so quickly I wouldn’t have been able to return to school in the fall.
The administration claims to have had the health center change their policies, but neither my parents nor I have been given any proof of this. There needs to be a major change in their policies (for example: not almost killing a student) and there should be an awareness program for Toxic Shock on campus — the health center doesn’t even have information about the syndrome.
I’m trying to work with the Women’s Center and Senate to help advocate that the Health Center to change their policies and to get an awareness program started. I never want this to happen to another student, and the only way to prevent that is by getting this information out there.