By Justin Wier
Youngstown State University and Mercy Health announced a 10-year partnership on Wednesday that they said will improve student health services and increase academic opportunities for students.
Mercy Health will begin operating the Student Health Center on campus next month and will participate in the creation of the university’s master of athletic training degree program, which is the state’s first. They will also collaborate with YSU Athletics and work together to develop regional economic development initiatives.
“I think any time some of the biggest institutions and impact players in the area can get together and collaborate to make it even better is huge,” YSU President Jim Tressel said.
He noted that Jim Greene, a former member of the YSU Board of Trustees that passed away recently, had pushed for the partnership.
“At least once a month he called me and said, ‘We gotta make sure we get together with Mercy Health,’” Tressel said. “And he always used the phrase ‘win win.’”
Don Kline, president and CEO of Mercy Health Youngstown, said this builds on an existing relationship, which has included YSU students receiving clinical training through Mercy Health among other collaborations.
“We at Mercy are equally excited about this opportunity both current and future to partner with YSU in ways that will benefit not only the students and faculty, but also local business interests and the broader Youngstown Community,” Kline said.
Jim Kravec, president of Mercy Health physicians, said the partnership helps the organization meet its goal of increasing access to health care.
“For YSU students, the health center provides immediate access to walk-in care and scheduled care here on campus for acute medical illnesses,” Kravec said. “Care now that has the backing and the strength of Mercy Health, Mercy Health physicians and the Mahoning Valley region.”
Kravec said three Mercy Health physicians will be working in the campus health center, including Jessica Handel, who will serve as the center’s medical director.
Tressel said the university needs to increase awareness of student resources like the health clinic.
“It’s our responsibility to do a good job for letting our students know all of the resources we have for them,” Tressel said. “It’s amazing the variety of resources we have available for our students, and we’ve got to do a better job making sure they understand all that’s available.”
Eddie Howard, vice president of Student Experience, said they would like to expand the care offered in the future, possibly expanding the hours of operation or providing care to faculty and staff. He also said there will continue to be opportunities for students to work in the health center.