Q&A with new Health Services director

Maxie Gardner took over as Health Services director on Jan. 3. Photo courtesy of stories.butler.edu. 

SARAH NITTI | STAFF REPORTER | snitti@butler.edu 

Maxie Gardner started her role as the director of Health Services on Jan. 3. Gardner has stepped up to fill this position after Health Services went without a director for eight months. Gardner said she plans to improve care to students by collaborating with their needs. 

The Butler Collegian: How did you hear about the job and what drew you to the position?

Maxie Gardner: I am on LinkedIn, and I follow Butler University and that is how I first learned of the position … It’s a great networking site which I’m sure you’re familiar with. What drew me to the position is first and foremost, Butler University is just an outstanding institution…and I am a registered nurse, and the majority of my career, as a registered nurse, I worked at Riley Hospital for Children. So I’ve been a pediatric nurse which involves working with not just little bitty pediatrics, but adolescent teens. And I thought what a neat opportunity to engage with students in early adulthood. As a nurse at Riley, students were going off to college, they would graduate from Riley, and we would help find them the medical services that they needed at their college campus. So it’s neat to finally be on this side and to provide care for students in early adulthood. So that definitely drew me in. And then the other aspect that I was very impressed with is Butler’s BUBeWell program. And I truly believe that when you care for people, that you’re not just looking at them medically, but that you’re thinking about them kind of mind, body and spirit, like all encompassing. And I really believe that with Butler’s program to wellness with BUBeWell, it really does capture that. So for those three reasons, that is definitely what intrigued me and drew me into Butler. 

TBC: Health Services lost multiple staff members last year and went without a director for eight months. What goals do you have during your time as director? Do you have any plans in place yet? 

MG: I don’t like to say my goals, I definitely look at it from a different perspective. And that is our team’s goals, meaning here at our clinic and most importantly, like what I talked about earlier, is getting out there and connecting with the students to really try to understand what their needs are, so we can meet those needs of our students. Because that’s who we’re servicing. So I have really, in the first two weeks, have tried to connect with different departments here on campus, just so I can kind of get the word out about Health Services, but not only get the word out about Health Services, but engaging with those students and collaborating with them to figure out maybe where some of our shortcomings are and what we can improve upon. And then also just getting information out about Health Services. So I feel that that’s our goal here at the health center: is to collaborate with the students because that is the best way we’ll know how to meet the needs of the student and care for them properly. 

TBC: There has been a high demand for COVID-19 tests on campus and across the country. Have you been able to get enough tests to meet the demand of Butler students? If not, what have you advised students to do? 

MG: So currently, I can say that we have had enough tests to meet the needs of the students here at Butler University and Butler has done, you know, prior to my time an outstanding job with kind of mitigating risks with COVID-19. So currently we have two different options for students. And that is there is testing downstairs in the HRC. And that testing, you know, it’s a rapid test. But if the student feels like they need to be evaluated by a physician or provider, they certainly can contact our office, and so far we’ve been able to meet the need. I can’t predict the future in regards to the supply chain and some of the issues. But we have been working very, very hard to secure testing for our students because we see that that’s very important to keep them safe. And I know that so far, we’ve been able to meet the need of where the students are, and I know there’s testing available downstairs and of course, they can come in here to our office and be evaluated by a provider but also receive the test here in our office. So far, so good. We just are hopeful that we can continue to keep up with the demand. 

TBC: What do you want students to know about Health Services and how they can utilize this resource? 

MG: I think the most important thing is when in doubt, to always reach out to us. I think that some students might hesitate in coming to us, thinking “oh, they may not be able to help me with that.” It’s pretty amazing what we do have here in our health center, so please reach out and contact us and call us because I think they might be surprised at what we can do, the services that we can provide, and what we do offer for our students. I think that is the best way, when in doubt to, you know, give us a call. Because we can do many many things and we have Dr. Maria Fletcher and Tara, our nurse practitioner. They are phenomenal at what they do. They are excellent providers. So always my biggest advice is when in doubt, you know pick up the phone and give us a call. Because we’d be happy to answer your question and most likely, I’m sure we can probably take care of your needs. 

TBC: How would you describe your role? What does the director of Health Services do? What are they in charge of? 

MG: I have oversight of the student health center here. So we have a team of physicians and nurse practitioners and physician assistants and also registered nurses in our clinic and then we have a phenomenal front team staff that handles calls and scheduling. So definitely oversight of that and then really working and collaborating with many different departments on campus. The most important aspect of my role is engaging with the students. Because I think the more that our department engages and collaborates with students, we can help identify the students’ needs in regards to wellness and their health goal. And I’m hoping to collaborate with different student organizations and clubs and the Greek houses, to just try to understand what the students [want]. If it’s something with access, they want improved access to the health center, and to really just get information out to the students and how we can provide care. So I see that as a huge part of my role is to collaborate and connect with students in addition to having oversight of our student Health Services. 

TBC: What experience do you have in Health Services? 

MG: I am new to working for a university. However, in dealing with this population, like I had mentioned previously at Riley Hospital, many of our patients were teens and adolescents, 18 to 19 years old. And they were transitioning out of Riley, and we did our best to find them the services that they needed for college because a lot of the patients at Riley saw specialists like gastroenterologists, rheumatologists, pulmonologists. So we would try to, especially if they moved out of state, we would try to coordinate and facilitate care for them near their college campus. So that was a neat opportunity to do that. And like I said earlier, it’s so neat to be on this side and to care for students in early adulthood. 

TBC: Is there anything else you would like to add?

MG: I just encourage students to really look into the BUBeWell kind of philosophy, because I think that that really enhances your experience here as a student at Butler. Because your wellness is vital. It’s important to your success in the classroom and beyond the walls here at Butler University. And part of the BUBeWell, of course, encompasses you know, student Health Services, that we’re here for you. But to just really kind of look into those programs. Here at the HRC … even though it’s COVID, we are open … You know, staying fit is not only good physically for your body, but it definitely helps reduce stress. All of those things. So I encourage students to definitely engage and look into those opportunities that are right here at Butler for them. 

This interview was edited for length and clarity. 

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