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  • Shelbi R. Ankiewicz

CCU introduces new telehealth service, TimelyCare

One of many flyers posted around campus explaining TimelyCare and its services. Photo courtesy of Shelbi Ankiewicz.

Coastal Carolina University introduced a new telehealth service this past August called TimelyCare that allows students 24/7 access to physical and psychiatric health services through a cell phone app.

The service is of no cost to students enrolled at CCU, apart from prescriptions (those must be paid for out of pocket). TimelyCare provides medical and counseling visits, health coaching, mental health support and psychiatric visits by referral. The service is provided and monitored by CCU’s LiveWell Office, Counseling Services and Student Health Services.

The Director of the LiveWell Office, Lee Carter said the service was created to help reach and accommodate more students on campus who need help with their physical and mental health. She said the app is not hard to navigate.

“For our students, it should be pretty easy and straightforward,” Carter said. “You go to the website, download the app, especially if you want to use your phone, etc. all the instructions are on there. It’s single sign-on, so you just log in with your CCU username and password, and then you have access to all the services.”

The Student Health Services check-up with the telehealth provider to ensure students are having a good experience with TimelyCare, to see if students are receiving what they need, etc. The LiveWell Office receives monthly reports with a general number of how many students are using the service. The report is anonymous and tells how many students are using which service (psychiatric, medical, etc.), so the offices know which ones are in high demand.

Carter said that TimelyCare can be used for emergency situations when students cannot be on campus or if they need quick assistance. Carter and the Director of Counseling Services, Angel Onley-Livingston, strongly emphasized that TimelyCare is not replacing CCU’s on-campus services. It is solely being used as an outreach method to meet with and help more students than the university could before.

Onley-Livingston works with the psychiatric side of Counseling Services and TimelyCare. She handles mental health education and awareness to students, faculty and staff, and the surrounding community per request.

She also monitors and connects students to psychiatric services through a phone call or per email request. Each student is issued a code to access the psychiatric service on TimelyCare. This way CCU can keep track of how many students and who is using these services, so the paperwork is easily accessible if the student needs to be referred elsewhere.

“It’s a code, they get it when they go in, they request the appointment, and then it sends them straight to the portal for them to select time, date, and those kinds of things, and then someone returns the phone call,” Onley-Livingston said.

The psychiatric services are normally video chat, so the practitioner can be face-to-face with the student (like FaceTime). Yet, there is a phone call option as well. In addition, if a student wants to meet in person with a practitioner, there is one available on campus Monday, Wednesday, and Friday that students can schedule an appointment with.

TimelyCare was in the talks during the fall of 2019, before COVID-19 hit. The university thought the service would be in high demand and the pandemic only made it increasingly more important.

Onley-Livingston said CCU has over 500 psychiatric services for students, which is exceptionally more than other universities. She said that mental health starts peaking between ages 18 and 21, which is usually the prime age for college students.

“I believe our students should have access to mental health care whenever and however they need it,” Onley-Livingston said. “That means at their convenience, that means as soon as they’re ready to admit that they need help with something.”

TimelyCare was approved and paid for by the Student Government Association. There has already been a significant difference in students using the psychiatric portion now versus before the telehealth service was available.

Onley-Livingston said they are seeing 180-220 students using the service weekly rather than the traditional 200-250 students monthly. This number is only reflective of individual students; this does not consider the individuals attending group services that CCU also offers.

In addition to TimelyCare, Onley-Livingston said CCU’s Counseling Services also recently implemented two other services to assist students. One is Thriving Campus: a free application that allows students to search for any counselor across the United States.

This is to help students that return home for the summer find a counselor near them depending on the service they are seeking. The website will show the counselor's name, where they are located, who they work for, description of the counselor and what services they provide.

Students can create a profile for themselves and connect with the counselor through the website. Although the website is free to students, only some of the services are independently paid for if the student has insurance.

Onley-Livingston said Counseling Services also added the National Suicide Awareness Hotline number on the back of CINO cards this past summer. This allows students easy access to the service and informs them on where they can go for help or who they can connect with.

Additional information about these services and TimelyCare can be found through the LiveWell Office and Counseling Services websites. The Counseling Services website is now more user-friendly, so students can schedule an appointment online without having to call or contact someone from the office. All services are also listed for easy access and connections.

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