The Student Health Center, Then and Now

By on December 9, 2013

The Student Health Center first opened its doors in 1974.  Located at 2001 Wiggins Road, across from the present location of the UTEP Library, it remained there for the next 35 years.  The building was a former residence before the clinic staff moved in and began seeing students.  The Health Center’s location caused problems from the outset, as it was a longer walk from central campus for students seeking help. The long narrow hallways made navigation difficult, while the small rooms, and converted waiting room were only able to handle a few students at a time.  Office visits were five dollars, and the clinic was open 24 hours a day.  Three registered nurses and one physician on call oversaw the small clinic.


Throughout the 1970s, funding for the Center shrank while the number of students seeking medical help continued to grow.  The Center underwent renovation in the 1980s in an attempt to accommodate the 100-150 students visiting each day.  The clinic was temporarily relocated in Kelly Hall while the Wiggins building was renovated and 30% more space was added.  In the late 1980s and into the 1990s, the medical staff began holding “Brown Bag” forums on various health issues facing students; they lectured on subjects that included smoking, stress, alcoholism, and surviving the holidays.  The Clinic also offered free immunizations to further promote student health.


Construction on the new location for the clinic began in 2008—now located at Union East, Suite 100.  The new space has over 6500 square feet, a discreet outside entrance, and offers easier student access.  A grand opening was held on January 25, 2009.  Mr. David Porras Jr., who joined the staff in 2011 as the clinic’s first Business Manager, is very proud of the new facility and the medical staff.  He has revamped the system to allow for insurance billing, and is also responsible for all aspects of billing and the budget.  Porras estimates that 75% of the student population has no insurance.   As a result, payment options and lower costs are available for any student with a Miner Gold Card.  The clinic staff has grown to include a full-time pharmacist at the onsite pharmacy, two full-time nurse practitioners, two full-time RNs, part-time occupational and physical therapists, and a nutritionist.  Dr.  Man Tai Lam is also available by appointment Wednesday mornings.  The doors remain open all year round, and the qualified staff is always ready to assist students with advice and medical expertise.


Interview with David Porras Jr.

The Prospector:

May 6, 1977 “Health Service not all that bad”

May 31, 1979 “Health Service Cuts Hours”

October 13, 1983 “Letters”

September 13, 1984 “Health Center near Completion”

May 13, 1986 “Best shot in the West”

September 30, 1986 “Good Health”

May 14, 2003 “Stay healthy at the UTEP Health Center”

Student Health Center Keeps Miners Healthy

“UTEP’s New Student Health Center Opens”

Posted in: History