Brenda Higgins, associate vice president for student health and wellness, is retiring as major changes are made to Truman State University’s Student Health Center and Counseling Services.
These changes include a partnership with Hannibal Regional Complete Family Medicine to manage the Student Health Center and University Counseling Services, extended hours for the health center, and the availability of insurance billing for counseling services.
Higgins has worked at Truman for most of her career, starting as an assistant professor of nursing in 1990. She also worked as a nurse practitioner at the health center during that time. During 2002, she was hired as Director of the Student Health Center. She also directs the University Counseling Services and The Office of Student Access and Disability Services.
As an assistant professor of nursing, Higgins was a Teacher of the Year finalist three times. Over her career at Truman, Higgins said she has connected with many students as a professor and nurse practitioner or through her work as director of the Student Health Center.
“There are also those individual moments where you know you really helped a student … Those individual moments where you really helped someone are the most important things,” Higgins said.
After Higgins retires from her position as director of the Student Health Center, she said she plans to spend more time doing community activities. One of these activities is running for the Adair County Health Department Board of Trustees.
Some of her goals, if elected, include continuing the work the Adair County Health Department is doing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and getting vaccines distributed. She said she also wants to address the health and wellness needs of minority groups in Adair County. Higgins has a Facebook page where Adair County residents can reach out to her with their concerns called Brenda Higgins for Adair County Health Department Board of Trustees.
“I have a background in community health and looking at the needs of the community as a community, rather than just the needs of individuals, is really important,” Higgins said.
Even if she is not elected to the Adair County Health Department Board of Trustees, Higgins still plans on helping them by volunteering to do COVID-19 vaccinations.
“I am also really looking forward to having more time to myself and my husband, and I will probably be spending more time with our grandkids,” Higgins said.
After her retirement, the Health Center will look a bit different. Truman has partnered with Hannibal Regional Complete Family Medicine to run the Student Health Center and University Counseling Services. The partnership with Complete Family Medicine officially began March 8. When Higgins announced her retirement in Spring 2020, the Administration began discussing other options and chose to partner with Complete Family Medicine.
This partnership is going to allow for the Health Center to be open for longer hours — into the evenings on Monday through Thursday and Saturdays. Complete Family Medicine will also be filling the positions that are currently vacant in both the University Counseling Services and the Health Center, including hiring more counselors. One thing that Complete Family Medicine is doing is trying to recruit a diverse pool of potential counselors, to possibly hire in the counseling center. Complete Family Medicine will keep all of the current services offered by Truman and possibly add new ones.
One significant change that will occur is that when a student visits the University Counseling Center, they will be asked if they have insurance to cover their appointment fees. Students can still use the University Counseling Center if they do not have insurance.
“The goal is to have a partnership that is similar to the one we have with Sodexo, where we don’t think of them as a company that provides dining services, but instead they are part of the Truman organization,” Janna Stoskopf, vice president for student affairs, said.
This story has been edited since its original publication, which incorrectly stated Higgins will continue as the supervisor of The Office of Student Access and Disability Services.