In response to concerns that students' medical needs are not being met on the weekends, the College is instituting limited weekend hours for a trial period at Dudley Coe Health Center to deal with urgent medical needs.

Dudley Coe will provide care for some urgent medical needs, such as ear infection treatment or emergency contraception. However, students with ailments such as broken bones or wounds requiring stitches will still have to go to a hospital for treatment. Students with routine medical needs such as blood tests, physical exams, and prescription refills will need to visit the health center during the regular weekly hours.

"The weekend hours are meant to provide focused acute care services to students over the weekend," College Physician and Director of Health Services Dr. Jeff Benson said. "By acute care services, we mean care for needs that cannot or should not wait until Monday morning, but needs which are also not so urgent that they should be met in the emergency room."

Weekend hours will begin on November 20 and continue until Spring Break every weekend while classes are in session. Dudley Coe will be open from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

"We're hoping these will work for students and will be easy to remember, because they're similar to the hours the dining halls offer weekend brunch," Benson said.

Dudley Coe is implementing weekend hours on a trial basis to gauge student response. The health center staff will be compiling data on how many students come on the weekends, when health concerns seem to be most prevalent, and which needs Dudley Coe cannot address.

"Our goal is to understand as clearly as possible what type and scale of services are most needed by students over the weekends and to determine how best to meet those needs," Benson said.

Bowdoin Women's Association (BWA) Co-Chair Alison Driver '08 sees the trial period as a success for many groups on campus. "The trial period is an excellent start. Over the past few years, many groups attempted to expand health center hours to the weekend, and no one has gotten this far."

"Although the trial is no guarantee that we will have permanent weekend hours, it is a rational plan to assess the true need and demand for weekend services," she said.

"If the trial reveals that students won't use the health center enough on the weekends to justify keeping it open, BWA will work to find other ways to help students access important health services like emergency contraception during the weekend," Driver added.

The cost of the new hours will be minimal at $200 per weekend. Funding for the extended hours will come from Dudley Coe's operating budget.

"Operating weekend hours from now until spring break will only cost $2,000, overwhelmingly less than what the SAFC (Student Activities Fee Committee) recently gave the College Republicans to bring a speaker, or than what ResLife spent to bring a mechanical bull," BWA Co-Chair Heather Day '06 said.

"In this light, the College can certainly afford to provide services to students whose health needs are immediate and pressing, and to insure that students have immediate access to rape counseling, emergency contraception, and antibiotics, to name a few," she said.