The Doctor Is In

By Sean Smith
Staff Writer

When Arnold Mazur, MD, applied to be University Health Services director in 1975, all he knew about Boston College was that it was a Catholic institution, and basketball legend Bob Cousy had once coached there.

In fact, Mazur had scarcely worked in an academic setting at all, having served as a county health commissioner in western New York and a preventative medicine officer at Fort Devens.

But Mazur - the department's first full-time director - became a vital administrator in the subsequent 20 years, helping the University meet the changing health needs of its increasingly diverse student body. Now Mazur is undergoing a transition himself: He stepped down earlier this month to become a primary care physician at Health Services [click here to read story on Health Services reorganization]. While his duties and responsibilities may change, Mazur's colleagues - and Mazur himself - are confident he will remain a strong presence in the University he came to know so well.

"Arnold is a true University person," said Vice President for Student Affairs Kevin Duffy. "He contributes so much not only through his job, but his activities in support of, for example, the Martin Luther King Jr. Committee and Robsham Theater, or his attending important events like the Breaking the Barriers Ball. You always seem to see him around, because he truly cares about Boston College."

"Being an administrator and maintaining an organization is challenging," Mazur said. "I felt 20 years was long enough for that challenge. But I have always enjoyed the purely medical aspect of my job, where I can concentrate on the people I see and now I can devote my full attention to it."

Under Mazur, Health Services came to occupy a central role in University student life. Its 40-member staff handles approximately 30,000 visits annually and deals with other health-related trends or issues, ranging from substance abuse and AIDS to diet and fitness. Most importantly, he and other administrators note, Health Services symbolizes Boston College's commitment to personal care.

"There are a variety of needs you have to address," he explained. "Naturally, you'll have short-term situations, like a flu or virus. But what about the student moving off-campus who is concerned about his chronically bad knee? Or a student who has a form of epilepsy and has never lived away from home? You have to figure out the best way of resolving these needs - respecting their feelings, even if you are not always able to provide exactly what they are looking for."

"Arnold took Health Services into the modern era, much the same way the University itself grew," said Thomas Nary, MD, Mazur's successor as Health Services director. In addition to instituting in-patient care, Nary added, Mazur "also was instrumental in helping the University develop its resources in key areas such as women's health and sports medicine."

Mazur feels he helped make a difference simply by virtue of his ability to administrate on a full-time basis. "The single most important thing, for me, was being available," he said. "Health Services has always had conscientious, devoted people with a high sense of responsibility. There has always been excellent communication in the department as to the importance of our work. I was providing support for emphasizing that importance, tending to the details so everything ran as efficiently as possible."

These attributes will serve the department well as it confronts the evolving business-oriented nature of health care, Mazur said. Like many of his colleagues, Mazur is concerned about the compatibility between professional principles and the cost-driven practices which characterize the health care industry, even in the university health services field.

Mazur points out that Health Services is implementing new procedures and resources, such as using computers to process financial transactions, keep track of student immunizations and record numbers of visits. But over-reliance on technology can "overwhelm the caring aspect of our job," he said.

"Fortunately, Health Services has many experienced people who are sensitive to the community they serve," Mazur said. "Boston College, I think, makes a great effort to hire and keep people who have this kind of caring attitude. That helps the University as a whole stay close to its roots, even as it continues to grow and change."

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