Columbia Health Annual Report

Columbia Health advances the well-being of the Columbia University community and the personal and academic development of students. We serve as the central hub for management of students’ acute and chronic needs. Our organization includes: Alice! Health Promotion, Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS), Disability Services, Medical Services, and Sexual Violence Response (SVR).


During the Fall Term of 2019, Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) reimagined the drop-in service model to increase access to care, Go Ask Alice! celebrated 25 years of “questionable behavior,” Medical Services provided a record number of flu vaccinations, and members of the Columbia Health team participated in a roundtable on opioid overdose and naloxone training organized by the ONDCP at the White House.

Early in January 2020, Columbia Health began focusing efforts on managing the unknown virus and its impact on our returning travelers. When COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic in March, over the course of a single weekend, Columbia Health transitioned to a virtual model of care. Medical Services remained open on site, while in amended fashion, never ceasing in-person care for students who needed it, and other services provided the same high level of care through secure virtual platforms to our students who remained on campus, as well as to those who relocated across the country and globe.

Members of our organization have also played a leadership role in leading the University response to the challenges presented by COVID-19, serving on task forces guiding the institution’s operating plans, as well as spearheading the Columbia Test and Trace Program.

The highlights here illustrate a broad range of programs and impacts that the work of the Columbia Health team has had on the University student community over the 2019-2020 academic year.

  • Columbia University reaffirmed its commitment to maintaining contraception coverage under the Columbia Student Health Insurance Plan despite a Supreme Court decision to uphold a federal regulation that allows universities to limit access.
  • SVR reached 15,249 students, employees, and community members through in-person trainings and educational programs.
  • CPS reimagined its drop-in model, and supported 234 Problem-Solving visits and 362 Urgent Concern drop-in appointments until mid-March 2020.
  • Medical Services facilitated 47,711 visits, with 70% of all Morningside students visiting the practice.
  • Columbia Health added optional fields to the patient portal where students can set their name, gender, and pronoun preferences.
  • Disability Services administered and provided oversight for 12,630 accommodated exams to undergraduate students on behalf of faculty, an increase of 21% over the previous year.
  • Go Ask Alice! celebrated its 25th anniversary.
  • Over 3,000 students received accommodations from Disability Services, an increase of 13.5% over the prior year.
  • Administered 12,049 influenza vaccinations, an increase of 19% over the previous year.
  • Five lives were saved as a result of Columbia Health’s naloxone trainings, launched to allow members of the campus community to recognize an opioid overdose and administer help.
  • 5,713 unique students made use of CPS services.
  • Go Ask Alice! was featured as an online health resource for the new Hulu series, Looking for Alaska.
  • 63,849 people engaged with Relationship Violence Awareness purple lights at Lerner Hall sponsored by SVR.
  • Alice! piloted wellness coaching, and with its inclusion more than doubled the number of individual health education sessions compared to the same period last year.
  • CPS made a seamless transition to telehealth in March, supporting the same number of appointments as the comparable period last year.
  • Due to COVID-19, demand for e-text increased by more than 110%, partly as a result of independent asynchronous learning, with over 700,000 pages of electronic text provided by Disability Services.
  • The Coping Tools webpage was a top performing page for the year, with over 9,000 pageviews and an average engagement time of nearly five minutes.
  • Co-pays for COVID-19 treatment and most telehealth services were removed on the Student Health Insurance Plan.
  • Medical Services remained open on campus and supported a total of 4,262 visits.
  • SVR facilitated 20 virtual educational programs
    and saw a 17% increase in participation compared to the same period last year.
  • Columbia Health implemented a Graduate Health Insurance Transition Option in response to the pandemic, enabling graduates to purchase coverage with the benefits structure of the current student health insurance plan.