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UBC Reports | Vol. 47 | No. 08 | April 19, 2001

Beauty is in the eye of long-serving staff

They came for the spirit of the place and add their own

She's the 'heart and soul'

Students away from home get an education in health

by Bruce Mason staff writer

"Kathy Brand is the heart and soul of this place," says Dr. Patricia Mirwaldt, director of Student Health Services, to which UBC students make 35,000 visits each year.

Brand, an administrative clerk, is flattered by the compliment from the sixth director under whom she has served.

"I love my job, mainly because of the team I work with."

"There is a good feeling here," she adds. "We `re providing a service which people really need and appreciate and most directors, doctors, nurses and support staff leave only because they're retiring."

Much has changed since Brand was hired Aug. 12, 1976. "I was a Clerk 1, the monthly salary was $760 and we were in the Wesbrook building," she recalls.

The department now consists of full- and part-time staff: 11 physicians, nine psychiatrists, four nurses and seven support staff.

Brand, who has worked in every clerical position in Student Health Services, says the clinic has been virtually paperless since 1985.

That made a big difference in storage of records and statistics. Two years ago a highly confidential computer system was developed to include such functions as scheduling scanning and lab reports.

"The biggest change is our basic approach," she says. "We used to take care of the injured and ill and still do. But we are much more involved in education and prevention. For example, we have a wellness co-ordinator and we're adding an expert on eating disorders."

She points out that many of the clinic's clients are away from home and their family doctor and want to consult with someone about their health. Students are preparing for the outside world and a visit to the clinic is a highly teachable moment.

"Students are wonderful and very interesting, but high school doesn't educate them to take responsibility for their health," says Brand. "That's the best part of my job, but don't get me wrong, I really do enjoy my holidays as well."

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