New vending machine enhances access to self-care at Cornell Health

A new vending machine fully dedicated to the 24/7 distribution of self-care supplies is now located just inside the Ho Plaza entrance of Cornell Health. In the near future, a limited number of self-care products will also be added to existing “Vengo” vending machines located in residential spaces across campus. These efforts are designed to reduce the stress of untimely illness or injury, increase privacy for sensitive concerns, and provide additional well-being support for the campus community around the clock.

“As a Health Promoting Campus, Cornell is committed to supporting the health and well-being of all campus community members,” said Ryan Lombardi, vice president for Student and Campus Life. “Providing these critical health and self-care products 24/7 through campus vending machines enables us to reduce the barriers and increase equity for access to resources for our students, staff, and faculty.”

The self-care vending machine at Cornell Health includes non-prescription medications and self-care supplies easily accessed – both during and outside of Cornell Health hours – to address common health concerns among Cornell students. Items for purchase in the machines include thermometers, Band-Aids, antibiotic cream, fever and pain-reducing medications, condoms, emergency contraception, pregnancy tests, and products to support specific health concerns like upset stomach, allergies, urinary tract infections, and upper respiratory infections such as cold and flu. Free COVID-19 antigen tests are also available.

“While many of the medications and supplies in the machine are appropriate for any student to use or consume, our vending machine has signage with QR codes to link users to important health information they should review before purchasing,” said Tracey DeNardo, pharmacist at Cornell Health. “For example, not all emergency contraception is the same. It’s important to read the details to find out if the products stocked are a good match for you.”

Given their daily support for Cornell students and the challenges they face, pharmacy staff are essential to the success of the self-care machine at Cornell Health. They monitor stock of the machine to ensure supplies meet current demand, and have the ability to substitute inventory should a new health concern arise. The inventory in the pharmacy includes all vending machine supplies and more if a student prefers to purchase a different medication or product. Expert pharmacy staff remain available during regular business hours to provide guidance in selecting a product to address health concerns if needed.

If after reading the self-care instructions, students who remain unsure if they should consume a particular medication from the machines or are confused about how to use a particular product, can consult with a pharmacist at Cornell Health during regular business hours. After hours, students can consult with a medical provider 24/7 by calling 607-255-5155.

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