Staff Stories: Center for Health and Wellness
Christine Burke not only has to worry about the health of her own family, including 14 siblings, but also the well-being of the Keene State community. As the Director of the College’s Center for Health and Wellness, Burke is responsible for the overall operation of the department, providing leadership in college health, budget management, and staff supervision and representing the department within the Division of Student Affairs.
“This department is what I consider the away-from-home primary care center for students,” said Burke, who also serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Health Science Department. “They can be seen here for just about anything they need, as well as get referrals and so they can see a specialist.”
The Center has nine staff members, including Assistant Director Deb Coltey, who serves as the Center’s Chief Medical Officer, and Tiffany Mathews, the Coordinator of Wellness Education, and saves students from going home and missing classes. “Any time a student has to leave to get a service, that’s an obstacle for them – and every time you put an obstacle in front of students it could hinder them from staying or even graduating,” Burke asserts.
Education is also a critical component for the Center. “First-year students come here for everything – they don’t know how to take care of themselves,” Burke said. “By senior year, we don’t see them unless they need to make an appointment. They’ve learned to advocate for themselves.”
Burke, who spends a good deal of her time doing outreach connecting Keene State to the community, says her role is to be “the voice of how student health and wellness works on campus.” Burke also has to be vigilant and monitor national medical news so she can provide the campus with information and updates. While the Zika virus is currently making headlines, Burke readily recalls the concerns on campus a few years ago about the H1N1 virus, which targeted young adults. “That was a game-changer,” said Burke, who was in constant contact with Keene State’s President, as well as local, state, and community health organizations as they mitigated that response.
While she is concerned with the well-being of all Keene State students, Burke has had a special connection with a couple of recent grads, serving as a mentor to Pamela Delisme, the secretary of the Common Ground Multicultural Club, and working with Abbie Sweatt, an intern for Matthews in the Center for Health & Wellness, who was able to attend graduation just weeks after being hit by a car on Main Street.
Burke, who has devoted countless hours to College initiatives including the strategic plan and implementation committees, is particularly pleased with the strong message the plan included about the health and well-being of students. “That led to more discussion on campus and helped send the message that students’ well-being is everyone’s job,” she said.