In light of some more serious medical emergencies on campus involving WEMS in the past year, there have been recent debates over potential changes to WEMS’ policies, and the members of WEMS think it’s important for the student body to be aware of these changes as Willamette students may be directly impacted. Last semester while on call, a member of WEMS independently came across a patient who needed to be transported to the ER via ambulance, so they called Campus Safety to inform them of the situation and have them send an officer, and then called 911. When Campus Safety asked to be given the student’s name, WEMS could not inform them as it is not in our protocols to provide this medical information. This was an issue for the University, as they are responsible for their students’ safety, and yet they did not know who was being taken the ER and thus could not get in touch with their emergency contacts. Due to this, Campus Safety decided that for WEMS responders to be on call, they would be required to provide patient names. Beyond having many moral misgivings about this, WEMS was concerned of its legality in terms of patient confidentiality. Over the summer and the entirety of this semester, Exec Board members were hard at work discussing this potential new rule with various organizations such as the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), who provides WEMS members with their medical licenses, and lawyers specializing in HIPAA law. It has turned out to be a much more complex legal situation than we initially anticipated, which is why it is taking so long to come to an agreement. WEMS is currently in discussion with the legal council of the University, so the deciding the legality of WEMS providing names will be in their hands and hopefully be settled soon. However, whether or not WEMS provides names to Campus Safety, it is important for students to be aware that this will not change the collection of names by independent Campus Safety officers when students call for WEMS.
We would like to thank everyone for their patience and support during the past semester while we have worked towards making the right decisions. WEMS is hopeful that we will have the situation sorted out by next semester so we can return to being on call. Moving forward, we encourage Willamette students to speak to their class representatives about implementing a better university amnesty policy. We believe that this may be a good solution to the moral issues WEMS has with giving patient names, which are considered protected health information, to Campus Safety. However, getting the University to make this change would be a long process requiring backing from more than just WEMS. Our campus needs to begin a dialogue between students and administration to figure out a solution which will allow Campus Safety to feel that students are still safe, while students feel comfortable calling for help when they need it. We would appreciate any support from individuals, professors, clubs or other groups. If we want to see a change, we need to work together to find an amicable solution.
Thank you for your understanding.
Izze Sacksteder &