The University’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) currently cannot refill any prescriptions. According to Director of CAPS Jennifer D’Andrea, this is a result of former psychiatric advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) Katina Varzos leaving her position to pursue another full-time employment opportunity.
“We are currently searching for a new prescribing APRN, and hope to fill the position as quickly as possible,” D’Andrea wrote in an email to The Argus. “Since it is hard to know when we will find the right candidate and how quickly that person will be able to join the team, we have asked students to be prepared to make alternative arrangements for the entire fall semester.”
This situation affects around 100 returning clients who were receiving medication management through CAPS.
“When we learned of [Varzos’] departure, we contacted all of these students to alert them to the situation,” D’Andrea wrote. “We are supporting these students while searching for a replacement APRN: we have updated our list of community prescribers, we are offering students assistance with navigating their health insurance, and we can help students to secure transportation to community appointments if necessary.”
CAPS also included a medical update on their website page notifying the community about the situation.
“We understand that Ms. Varzos’ departure will create some challenges for all of us this fall and we will work hard to hire a new psychiatric APRN,” the website reads. “Please do not hesitate to meet with your clinician, and we will offer whatever assistance we can in finding an interim prescriber.”
They also posted a list of medication providers in and around Middletown.
“We recognize that many insurance plans will not cover the full cost of seeing a community prescriber,” D’Andrea wrote. “We will work with students in financial need to provide assistance covering the cost.”
Despite these good intentions, students who relied on CAPS are still experiencing difficulties with their prescription needs. Specifically, Bernice* ’17 spoke about the extra hassle she is facing this semester.
“I think it really targets students who are making an effort to stay healthy while at school, which is difficult enough without having to transition between providers in different states if you’re coming from home or finding someone locally in Middletown where a lot of psychiatrists don’t take insurance,” Bernice said. “For example, my provider back in California is reluctant to prescribe psychiatric meds because I haven’t seen her since 2013. So understandably I don’t want to find someone in Middletown if I’m about to graduate or if I am somewhere else for the summer, for example, for work. So it would be really nice to have that service and to be able to rely on it. This news shows me I can’t.”
Bernice also expressed disappointment over the lack of available methods to obtain prescriptions.
“So this is a frustrating system to begin with,” Bernice said. “With this new update, it’s even more disappointing to realize that CAPS isn’t able to fulfill one of the essential parts of its name—Counseling and Psychological Services—which includes psychological services, which includes psychiatric treatment.”
However, that being said, Bernice did offer words of hope to others in this predicament.
“Don’t feel like this has to be a complete setback in your treatment,” Bernice said. “CAPS is kind of an unsustainable solution anyways, so if you can find a way to get it from someone in your hometown, try to. But honestly, for people who are in the process of changing medication or need to adjust their dosage, it’s like a shot to the face honestly. Because you need someone to supervise any changes and if that’s not there, then you really have to write out whatever is going on.”