Going away to college is an exciting time filled with new opportunities and responsibilities. One of those is managing your own health care needs.
At Kids Plus, we’re eager to help you be successful in that effort. While most colleges and universities now have excellent health services, many patients and families find that continuing with a primary care provider at home, who knows you and your family, and who participates in your health insurance plan, is helpful.
If you’d like to remain with Kids Plus through your college years, there are a few things you should know and do before you leave for school:
Get Your Permission Info
Once you’re 18 years old, we need your express permission to share any health information with your parents. Please complete and sign our release of information form, letting us know what information we may share with whom.
Get Your Communication Info
To continue to provide you with the best possible care, we need to be kept “in the loop” about care you receive elsewhere while you’re out of town, and to be allowed to communicate with your out-of-town health care providers. That means:
We need your consent to speak or share information with other health care providers, including your college health service, and providers for mental health and addiction services. Please sign our Young Adult Release and Consent Form before you leave, indicating with whom we may communicate.
We also ask you to ask out-of-town providers to keep us updated on care you receive from them, so we can continue to provide you with comprehensive primary care that addresses all of your health needs. Please be sure to have our contact information with you when you see other providers, and sign their consent forms so they may contact us to coordinate your care.
Think About Local Options
Most acute illnesses (things like coughs, sore throats, and injuries, to name a few) are best cared for by seeing a health care provider in person. When you get sick while away at college, you should plan to be seen by your college health service, or a local urgent care center or emergency room, as indicated by the circumstances. We generally do not provide care for these over the phone, since that’s not the best possible method of care.
Address Your Chronic Health Needs
If you have chronic health needs, you’ll need to pay particular attention to coordinating your care before and during your time away at college. You should communicate with your college health service before leaving Pittsburgh, and you should work to locate and establish a relationship with any necessary specialists before leaving home. We’ll work with your college health service and any contacts we may have to help you identify specialists you may need.
If you have stable chronic medical conditions that we’ve been managing here at Kids Plus (problems that do not require a specialist – like asthma, ADHD, or acne, to name a few), you can continue to have those addressed through our office. Your usual visit schedule (for example, seeing us every three months) will, of course, need to be altered around your school schedule and when you’ll be back in Pittsburgh to see us in person. Talk with your provider before you leave for school, and we’ll work with you to create an individual plan for how we can address your long-distance care needs.
For a printable, downloadable version of this information, as well as the Young Adult Long Distance Care Form, click here.