Final candidate for Director of Student Health Services suggests a holistic approach to healthcare

Executive Director of Student Health Services candidate Suzanne Onorato conducted a presentation about her “vision of an integrated and holistic model of health” at the University of Connecticut on Tuesday morning. (Zhelun Lang/Daily Campus)

Executive Director of Student Health Services candidate Suzanne Onorato conducted a presentation about her “vision of an integrated and holistic model of health” at the University of Connecticut on Tuesday morning. Onorato is the last of three candidates to interview and present for the executive director position.

A main focus throughout her presentation was holistic health, which Onorato defined as “an approach to life” rather than simply a form of healthcare. The idea of holistic health, she said, is getting people to their maximum well-being.

Onorato began her presentation by displaying a slideshow with recent headlines in regard to student healthcare. The headlines included “For Students With Mental Health Issues, Transition to College is Complicated” from NPR, “College Freshmen are more Depressed and Alone than Ever” from the Huffington Post, “LGBT Students and Campus Sexual Assault” from the Atlantic, “Suicide on Campus and the Pressure of Perfection” from the New York Times and “A Sober Assessment of High-Risk Drinking on College Campuses” from Forbes.

“These aren’t the only issues, but these are some of the big ones,” Onorato said. “There are literally hundreds of thousands of faces you can put on these slides.”

She said that many of these problems haven’t been thought of in the context of health, and they have been focused on as social issues instead. When health is not observed in a holistic, integrated way, it’s viewed in bits and pieces, according to Onorato.

“To me, this is the problem with healthcare right now- it’s incredibly fragmented,” Onorato said. “Integrated care is pulling everything together and thinking about the person as a whole, which is greater than the sum of all these problems.”

At UConn, Onorato said she hopes for the opportunity to align her vision with senior leadership, integrate holistic health as a core value, engage university stakeholders and partner to create a vision for a sustainable culture of health.

“We need to have that as a shared vision,” Onorato said. “We need to make sure that our student health services are exceptional.”

At the end of her presentation, Onorato read a quote from Helen Keller that states “alone we can do so little; but together we can do so much,” as well as a clip from UConn’s Report of the President’s Task Force on Civility and Campus Culture from Dec. 15, 2013: “… We have what it takes to transform UConn’s culture into a national model,” the paragraph concluded.

“I would love to be a part of that,” Onorato said.


Megan Krementowski is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at megan.krementowski@uconn.edu.