Letter to students from USC’s chief health officer for USC student health

Dear USC Students,

I came to USC in August 2017 with one goal in mind: To provide the highest quality health care to all of our students and to improve health and well-being among our community. When I arrived, I found that same commitment to outstanding care was shared by our university leaders, as well as by our dedicated teams at both the Engemann and Eric Cohen student health centers.

As someone who has devoted my career to care for students, I am deeply troubled by the situation involving a former student health physician that President Nikias discussed in a letter to the community. Our commitment to you – our students – is outstanding, professional health care, and I will not tolerate anything less in our university student health centers.

The university has made, and continues to make, significant changes to our student health centers. In August 2017, USC integrated student health systems into our academic medical center, Keck Medicine of USC. That further professionalized our care and brought the resources of our academic medical center to provide the best services to our students.

Our student health care providers now are faculty within the departments of Family Medicine and Psychiatry at Keck and undergo a demanding credentialing and peer-review process. We hired a new executive director of student mental health, we’re adding 10 additional mental health counselors next year, and we have joined a nationwide program that guides campuses to develop customized mental health, substance abuse, and suicide prevention efforts.

Governance and oversight of these practitioners and all care delivered at the student health centers is at my direction and I am accountable to the CEO of the academic medical center as well as the Vice President for Student Affairs. This structure ensures responsible and transparent health care services.

Our medical staff and faculty are accomplished individuals who have dedicated their careers to working with young adults. In fact, USC student health services staff includes many USC alumni and Trojan parents who have chosen to support the university by caring for its students.

Our student health centers are certified by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care, which conducts an external review every three years. We have patient satisfaction surveys and a structured process for handling complaints and reviews.

Over the next year, we will begin a strategic planning process for student health across our two campuses. To that end, the university is continuing its significant investment in student health care and has offered me all the resources I might need so that USC can be a national model.

As part of our transition to Keck Medicine, our staff has received extensive training on staffing and complaint reporting. This training will be ongoing with additional sessions scheduled this summer and fall to ensure that when concerning behavior and actions are noticed, they are quickly reported and addressed. We plan to strengthen our communication to students about their rights and responsibilities as well as mechanisms for reporting concerns.

As I work to further strengthen student health at USC, I look forward to seeking your input and engagement, getting to know more of you, and hearing your feedback. If you have additional information or concerns regarding Dr. Tyndall’s behavior, you can call this dedicated number: (833) 889-8833 or use this website: usc.mycompliancereport.com.


Sarah Van Orman, M.D., MMM, FACHA
Chief Health Officer, USC Student Health
Associate Vice Provost for Student Health
Clinical Professor of Family Medicine

Cc:       C. L. Max Nikias, Academic Senate, Academic Deans, President’s Cabinet, Provost’s Cabinet

PDF archival letter from USC’s chief health officer 5.15.18.