Through the new Wolverine Telehealth Program, San Bernardino Valley College students can speak to a doctor or mental health specialist whenever necessary, free of charge.

Powered by 24HOURDOCS, the Wolverine Telehealth Program is "intended to take campus student health to a whole new level," Dr. Johnny Negusse says. "We believe that students should have the easiest access to see a doctor or mental health specialist 24 hours a day and that there shouldn't be a cost associated with this access outside of initial enrollment."

To enroll in the Wolverine Telehealth Program, students pay a $25 fee at the beginning of the semester, and every virtual visit after that is free. 

"The student does not pay anything else the entire semester and can see a doctor or mental health specialist 24 hours unlimited through telemedicine," Negusse says. "Students can use their mobile device, tablet, or computer to see a doctor by video or simply talk with the doctor over the phone when appropriate.  The doctor sends their prescription electronically to their desired pharmacy."

SBVC is the first college in the Inland Empire to partner with 24HOURDOCS. Because of the pandemic, demand for telehealth services has "soared," Negusse says, and "as a result, there are now quite a few schools considering this program for their students, especially since it offers accessibility 24 hours a day and through the holidays to include summer break."

There is a mental health crisis happening on college campuses across the United States, Negusse says, and giving students 24/7 access to mental health specialists saves lives. Suicide is the second most common cause of death among college students and more than half of college students have reported having suicidal thoughts. Between 80 and 90 percent of college students who die by suicide were not receiving help from college counseling centers, and that is a "staggering" statistic.

"We know that mental health problems don't end at 5 p.m. and having a mental health specialist available on demand 24 hours a day is tremendously valuable," Negusse says.

Doctors can see students for hundreds of medical situations, and the average wait time to see a provider is less than five minutes. Since no appointment is ever required, students can receive help immediately, without having to worry about driving to a hospital, finding parking, and waiting with people who are sick. If an enrolled student graduates or leaves SBVC, they will remain part of the program until the semester is over.

"This program is not insurance," Negusse says. "It is a very uniquely crafted program that gives students unprecedented access to medical and mental care."