Health center offers cold care kits

University Health & Counseling Services celebrates five years of kits program


Joe Zehr

A cold care kit that you can get from the health center for getting your flu shot or if you have a cold you can get one from them.

Felicity Knabenbauer , Lifestyle Editor

It’s that time of the year again where around us we hear the sniffling of noses and feel the need to bundle up for the wintery weather that is taking over Whitewater. Covid has made us extra aware of our surroundings and how we should take care of ourselves, health-wise. However, now as the temperature drops we need to also look out for another common virus: influenza. 

The University of Whitewater has done its absolute best to keep students and faculty alike happy and healthy for many years here on campus. One way they have been attempting to keep cases of the flu down is by introducing cold care kits to the students. This year the UHCS is celebrating its five-year anniversary of the Cold Care Kits program. Inside the kits is an arrangement of goodies that students may not have thought of when they moved to the dorms. Inside the kit they will find a plastic Pepsi cup, a toothbrush, hand sanitizer, travel tissue packet, salt packets, cough drops, a chapstick, a thermometer, reusable cloth face masks and a ramen noodle soup packet. A new necessity added to the kits this year was the ice pack.

“Cold care kit idea began in 2016 when the clinic had student after student coming to the clinic with complaints of cough and cold symptoms expecting an antibiotic,” said Health Director, Julie Martindale. 

“We would educate students about viruses and how antibiotics do not kill viruses. But then we had the idea of handing the student something – other than an antibiotic – that may help them care for their colds. Many students are on their own for the first time when they come to college and may not know how to care for themselves when they are sick but not quite sick enough to see a healthcare provider. As well, many come to college without a thermometer which is necessary especially during flu season. So UHCS started in 2016 to ask various business organizations to support a cold care kit for the students in exchange for advertising them as a sponsor on the kit. Also included in the kit was info on how the items can be used to help their cold from getting worse and when to expect an antibiotic. Kits were given to all those that came to the clinic for a visit related to cough/cold as well as to those that came for a flu shot.” 

Students were asked to complete a survey about how they liked the kit. The survey showed that 80% of students asked, liked the kit and had learned something new because of it. Due to the success of the kits, they have been continuously returning every year to the UHCS for students to grab on the go when they are not feeling 100%.

“When covid kicked in two years ago I took the program over. Every year since we started, we try to add something new to the kits. We also have information in the kits such as: Covid Vs Cold VS Flu and other preventative things you can do for homecare. We have many students who call in and ask if we got in the cold care kits this year. The students really do enjoy them. This is something for the students to use as self-care that they can take home and use to feel a little bit better. You don’t realize that when you’re sick that you should switch out your toothbrush. You don’t think about switching out the cups that you drank out of. People don’t recognize that the salt packets in the kits are so you can gargle warm salt water to feel better. Just things that students may have wished they had known or had on hand right away that they don’t unless they grab a kit.” Said Medical Program Assistant, Ann Dudzek.

It is important for students to have access to these illness-preventing measures while living and studying here on campus. For those students who live in the dorms it is detrimental for them to stay as healthy as possible while living in such close contact with hundreds of other students. Even commuters to campus will still be placed in classrooms full of others who may be close to catching a bug as well. These kits will help keep students safe and educated, not just through the winter, but through the rest of the pandemic as well.

“In 2021, the kit is larger and becomes even more critical as we deliver services through this pandemic. We appreciate all of our donors as we not only keep our campus healthy but our community.” Said Martindale.

Joe Zehr