Columbia Health Releases its 2021-2022 Annual Report

Centering health and well-being in the new normal at Columbia as we invest in and strengthen our organization as stewards of the community's well-being. 

Columbia Health
March 20, 2023

For the Columbia University community, Fall 2021 marked the beginning of the new normal. For the first time, the community experienced exactly what it meant to have the full on-campus Columbia experience while simultaneously managing COVID-19. Even as the intensity of COVID-19 receded from the front of our minds, students, faculty, and staff alike understood on a very visceral level how central health and well-being is to the Columbia experience, and to the personal and academic development of students.

Agility borne of adversity

The myriad challenges due to COVID-19 resulted in the rapid digitization of our operations, enabling our organization to meet heightened demand across all services through in-person and telehealth delivery channels and through external partnerships that provided care at no added cost for eligible students.

  • Virtual service delivery increased Alice! Health Promotion’s GHAP sexual health visits by 26% compared to pre-pandemic levels

These challenges also expanded the scope of the organization’s responsibility across the University through membership in the Public Health Working Group and COVID-19 Presidential Advisory Task Force; ensuring COVID-19 vaccine provision and mandate compliance; providing COVID-19 surveillance testing; and absorbing contact tracing for all Columbia campuses.

  • Approximately 10,000 affiliates supported by Alice! Health Promotion’s Contact Tracing Team

Providing responsive care

Columbia Health’s agility enabled us to be nimble and respond to the unrelenting challenges of the day, be it students’ reproductive rights, bodily autonomy, and social and political turmoil at home or abroad.

  • 302 in-person support groups and virtual support spaces offered by Counseling and Psychological Services covering 50 different areas of concern

Columbia Health also continued its work protecting community health and well-being through proactive, preventive efforts to mitigate public health threats.

  • 18,057 flu shots administered
  • 2,561 affiliates trained in reversing opioid overdoses through naloxone with 10 reported lives saved to date

Enhancing the student experience of support

The experiences from the previous year helped Columbia Health better match delivery channels to student need. For instance, the return to campus enabled additional Columbia Health units to once again provide in-person drop-in hours for immediate access. Counseling and Psychological Services was able to adapt its intake process from a rapid access triage system to a virtual ‘treatment planning session’ model that better engaged students about their concerns and care options at the outset while giving them more control over their schedule.

  • 90% of surveyed students who booked their treatment planning session using the Patient Portal said the purpose of the session was clearly explained
  • Over 92% of them found it easy to navigate the Patient Portal to book their appointment

Accelerating University efforts to create a more accessible Columbia experience, Disability Services met the increased need for a range of accommodations head on, seamlessly delivering academic, housing, and co-curricular accommodations to ensure that students had equitable access to all that Columbia has to offer.

  • Disability Services provided 35,855 total accommodations (16.2%↑) and provided note-taking services for 1,528 courses (21%↑)

Facilitating access to care for students and campus partners

Recognizing that many students are not used to independently taking charge of their own health and well-being, Columbia Health conducted cross-channel marketing campaigns and offered resource navigation to help students get the care they needed. For example, students on the Columbia University Student Health Insurance Plan received monthly emails featuring timely and digestible information about the Plan so they could maximize benefits while reducing costs.

  • 80% open rates for So You Have the Columbia Plan... insurance usage education emails

Columbia Health understands the unparalleled insight and influence school administrators have on student life, even as they stand at the frontline of student support. That is why we offered administrators tools and information, worked with them to devise custom programs and support for their populations, and consulted on specific matters so they can be effective facilitators of health and well-being for students in their charge.

  • Counseling and Psychological Services provided 1,962 consultations with faculty, administrators, parents, and other members of the community concerned about a student

Empowering students to be agents of their own well-being

Columbia Health engaged all incoming students through new student orientation programs as well as numerous open or school-specific programs on health promotion, skill-building, and education around gender and power-based violence.

  • 87% of BASICS participants agreed that they increased their knowledge about the effects of alcohol

Building student leader capacity for well-being ambassadorship

Students also play a powerful role in supporting the well-being of their peers. Columbia Health conducted trainings for student leaders who were well-placed to identify peers in distress and refer them to the appropriate campus resources.

The first cohort of student leaders completed the Columbia Health Peer Ambassador Network training, equipping them with knowledge and skills to be better advocates for well-being and support their peers.

Evaluating, assessing, and learning to optimize offerings and operations

As part of our commitment to quality management, Columbia Health conducted continuous evaluations, internal and external benchmarking studies, and quality assurance and improvement projects. Members of the team also managed numerous Institutional Review Board (IRB) research protocols on a range of topics to advance our knowledge on issues pertinent to the Columbia community as well as to advance the field of college health more broadly.

  • 84% were satisfied with the courtesy, sensitivity, and respect for privacy during their telehealth visit with Medical Services
  • 16 active IRB-approved protocols

Contributing to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging at Columbia

Columbia Health is committed to cultivating an environment without bias or oppression and living the principles of equity, justice, inclusion, and belonging in the work we do. Work in our Health Equity and Racial Justice Change Teams continued, even as we participated in similar efforts across the University.

Investing in and strengthening our organization to better support the community

The work of achieving Columbia Health’s mission required critical investments be made in the resources that make our organization possible: our staff and facilities in particular. The 2021-2022 academic year saw tremendous inroads in establishing our footing as a standalone division at Columbia University: trending staffing with enrollment and utilization, providing digital tools to enhance the hybrid working experience, investing in training to foster professional growth, and building on conversations with University leadership and other campus partners to realize a singular, purpose-built, physical location for all of Columbia Health.

Columbia Health also achieved another full three-year re-accreditation from the AAAHC, placing the organization among the elite 10% of college health services that meet rigorous standards of quality health care.

Read the full report:

View in full screen