History of Health Service

University Health Service originated in the early 1920's in an office in Old Main under the direction of the first nurse, Miss Carol Besteland. Miss Besteland was in charge of the care of the students from 1923 until 1928 when Miss Angelina K. Schmitt took over the duties for the next two years.  Miss Mary Thompson arrived on campus and held the position of head nurse from 1930 until 1958. During Miss Thompson's era, the first physician was hired in 1937, Dr. S. B. Goff. He remained as physician/director until 1941. He was succeeded by the following physicians and directors:

  • Dr. E. Little -- 1941 to 1943
  • No physician -- 1943-48, during World War II
  • Dr. Maxwell -- 1948 to 1952
  • Dr. L. Montemayor -- 1952 to 1953
  • Dr. Fox -- 1953 to 1956
  • Dr. Jerry Heath -- 1956 to 1988
  • Dr. Richard Larson -- 1988 to 1996
  • Dr. Joseph Wall-- 1996 to 2005
  • Dr. Sheila Baker-- 2005 to present

Through the years, the position of head nurse was additionally held by Miss Mary June Bland 1958 to 1984, Mrs. Mary Margaret Irwin 1984 to 1987, and Mrs. Sue Lipka 1987 till 2001.  Ms. Nita Shrader held the position from July 2001 to May 2007. Maria Barrientos is currently head nurse.  During those early years, Dr. Harold Cavins of the Health Education Department was greatly responsible for the development and growth of the Health Service on this campus from 1928 until his retirement in 1965. He served on the Health Service Advisory Board through many of these years and was instrumental in many of the changes in employment of physicians and nurses during that time.

The Health Service was first located in Old Main but moved to what is now McAfee Gym in 1938 when that building was completed. At that time it consisted of a three-room complex in the northeast corner of the basement. The Health Service then moved to the northwest corner of the McAfee basement in 1961 and remained there until 1964. In 1964, we were relocated to the former Clinical Services building on the corner of Hays and Seventh streets.  In 2003, Health Service – Medical Clinic was pleased to announce our current location at the Human Services facility conveniently located on the South Quad.

The greatest changes in operation of the University Health Service occurred during the 1960's. The first clinical psychologist was employed in 1960 and served in the Health Service until the Counseling Center was opened in 1964. In 1961, Eastern Illinois University's student insurance program was established, providing extended services to students through other physicians in the area and care through the Charleston hospital and currently through Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center. Prior to the student insurance program, funds were provided from student fees for short-term hospitalization only. When the University Health Service moved to the present Clinical Services building in 1964, the addition of an X-ray Department and Laboratory greatly facilitated the care of the students. In 1977, a pharmacy was established where students could purchase drugs primarily for acute illnesses at reduced cost. Currently, the function of the University Health Service, as outlined in the Health Service brochure, is to furnish limited medical and surgical service to registered, ambulatory students and to provide conditions conducive to a healthy university community.

The University Health Service has made considerable progress through the years from a single-nurse office in Old Main to the present Human Services building. In 1990, the staff consisted of three full-time and two part-time doctors, five full-time and two part-time nurses, a laboratory technologist, an x-ray technologist, a pharmacist and pharmacy apprentice, and a complete office staff.

In 1995, the responsibilities of the physician/director became so numerous that the position was modified into two separate positions -- Medical Director and Director of Health Service. In July of 1995, Lynette Drake became the first female, non-medical administrative Director of the Health Service with Dr. Joseph Wall becoming Medical Director in August of 1996. In 1998, Eric Davidson became the first full-time Director of the Health Education Resource Center.

During the summer of 1998, in preparation for moving into the new millennium, the Health Service hired a microcomputer system specialist, Terry Collins, and initiated the use of MEDICAT to streamline scheduling and patient flow.

With the arrival of Lynette Drake, the Health Education Resource Center became a part of the Health Service. Graduate assistants work with their fellow students in peer education and health education. In 1997, the staff consisted of an administrative director, one part-time and three full-time physicians (this includes the medical director), seven full-time registered nurses including the administrative nurse (five in 9 1/2 month positions) and two part-time nurses (9 1/2 month positions), two medical technologists (one in a 10 month position), one x-ray technologist, one pharmacist and two pharmacy technicians (one full-time and one part-time), an administrative secretary, a chief clerk and a clerk typist.

Throughout the years, the Health Service has also played an important role in the Charleston community on more than one occasion. For example, the Health Service was instrumental in assisting with the influenza epidemic scare which occurred in 1977. The United States government recommended that all citizens be vaccinated for Swine flu, when an epidemic was expected that year. The Health Service volunteered its services and provided staff to administer the recommended immunization program. Several hundred students and Charleston residents were immunized in the Clinical Services building.

On another occasion in 1978, a severe blizzard in this area of the State of Illinois caused the closure of the highway between Charleston and Mattoon. Transportation, by any means, to Sarah Bush Lincoln hospital was impossible. The services of the staff were again volunteered and the Health Service remained open 24 hours a day for three days, answering telephone calls, giving medical care as needed to members of the community, and making house calls to some isolated individuals needing insulin shots and medication. The Health Service received a letter of appreciation from Mayor Robert Hickman for their assistance during the blizzard of 1978.

In August of 1996, Health Service hired its first male nurse, Bryan Callaway.  In August of 1997, Dr. James Esgar joined the Clinic team as a primary care provider.  In January of 1999, Dr. Sheila Baker became the first female physician, and in the fall of 2000, Daphne Piercy was hired as our first nurse practitioner. In January 2001, Bryan Callaway received his Nurse Practitioner license.  In 2005 - 2006, Health Service was delighted to complete our current medical team with the hiring of the following individuals: Dr. Kimberley Hollender, Dr. John Hutchinson, and Kathie Blesch, PA-C, our first physician’s assistant. 

The Health Service staff continuously strives to meet the changing needs of their patients, and is quite confident that they will continue to provide exceptional care for the university students in the future as in the past.

11/90, Submitted by: Jerry Heath, MD, and M. J. Bland, RN
6/99, Edited/updated by Mary Russell, RT, and Lynette Drake, Director
5/01, Edited/Updated by Mary Russell, RT
8 /04, Added EMR implementation, Health Education Resource Center
06/06,Edited/Updated by M. Clapp, R. Fisher, and K. Mullaney