History of the Center

For the first 30 years of Northern's existence, limited on-campus health services were offered.  Students were referred to city health officials in the Northern Bulletin in the 1920s. In 1922-1923, the City Health Officer provided physical examinations to students at the Normal school. In 1922 he gave 200 students heart and lung examinations to see if they were fit for taking physical training. In October 1927, Dr. W.L. Casler was appointed the school physician for women and Dr. H.B. Markham held a similar position for the men. Other physicians filled similar positions over the years. Northern's first nurse was Martha Hatch, who was listed in the Bulletin for 1944-1945. Her tiny office was in Kaye Hall.

Ailments treated by the nurse were most often colds, sore throats, anemia, headaches, earaches and menstrual problems. Worse ailments were treated at St. Luke's Hospital, and athletic injuries were handled by coaches. Health examinations were given to students at the beginning of the school year.

Hatch resigned to become an instructor for Northern's Licensed Practical Nurse program and Ada Vielmetti of Ishpeming was hired to replace her in 1948.  Vielmetti was also an instructor for a course, "Effective Living," and she scheduled campus visits for several local doctors.

In 1949, with increased enrollment following the end of the war, a Health Center was opened in Carey Hall. It housed examination rooms, a nurse's office and emergency beds. Student health insurance began about this time with maximum coverage set at $40, an amount students felt was inadequate.

In late 1961, a new Health Center was completed by Miller-Davis & MacDonald, Inc. Construction Company at the cost of $131,650. In the summer of 1962, the Center opened its doors on the ground floor of Gries Hall with new medical equipment worth $200,000.  The new facility featured a larger waiting room, solarium, a private room, five double rooms, two double isolation rooms, an ambulance entrance and a full-time doctor.  By 1973, the center had grown to include the second floor of Gries Hall, three full-time physicians, ten nurses, eighteen beds, twelve examination rooms and a pharmacy. Vielmetti retired from nursing in 1968, and on October 17, 1975 the Board of Control voted to name the health center the Ada Burt Vielmetti University Health Center. Soon after, students and faculty began to complain that the center was overstaffed, over-charging and performing unnecessary tests. A 1978 study by consultants resulted in modifications to the center during the 1980s.

From A Sense of Time by Russ Magnaghi, 1999.