Weigel Center director offers wealth of advice and wisdom


Colleen Young

Dr. Theresa Stephan Hains in her element at Weigel Health Center, where she’s worked for 21 years.

For as long as some of us have been alive (or longer), Dr. Theresa Stephan Hains has been diligently working behind the scenes to make sure that college students get the care and help they need. Her name is Dr. Theresa Stephan Hains, and she’s the director of Weigel Health Center.

This physician says she has loved working at SUNY Buffalo State for 21 years.

“This job is a wonderful fit,” Stephan Hains said. “I love to take care of the students. Young students have the opportunity to make healthy decisions, and I want to help them make good ones so they can stay on track to graduation.”

Before directing the health center, Stephen Hains studied at University at Buffalo, trained in Boston, and was an emergency room physician. She also worked in refugee camps in Thailand near the Cambodian border in the 1980s, and continues to focus on the health of over 8,000 Burmese refugees on the West Side of Buffalo today.

Along with enjoying seeing the potential for development on the West Side, Stephan Hains also appreciates seeing the progress taking place at Buffalo’s waterfront.

“There’s a different mentality,” Stephan Hains said. “Buffalo is a great place to live. There’s a great climate and culture, and there are great, friendly people and professional athletics.”

As far as Weigel goes, Stephan Hains said that the health center has a student-focused prevention mindset. They teach students about lowering risky behaviors and making good choices, with topics including abstinence, immunizations, dental care, and more.

“We don’t want people to be afraid,” she said. “We want every student to know that they can come and receive services (at Weigel Health Center). They can work with us, volunteer, and even come in with any questions.”

With the help of the Health Promotions staff, the center is increasing student involvement, growing their peer education program and adding opportunities for student interns.

As the center grows and improves, the director said that the center’s main objective is to help students reach their goals.

“We help them to graduate, find a good job and a good life,” Stephan Hains said.

She said that students need to make their own decisions without feeling pressured to do anything they don’t feel comfortable doing, especially if it may affect their health. The center works to keep people healthy by providing preventative care and discussing responsible practices with students, including birth control, condoms, and careful drinking.

The center also encourages exercise and teaches students about nutrition.

“Exercise and a healthy, balanced diet are critical,” said Stephan Hains. “A balanced diet is fuel for the brain.”

Students can visit the center to learn how to do CPR, about the importance of sleep, and all about addictions. Stephan Hains said that addictions aren’t always just to alcohol or drugs. The center helps students dealing with legal, academic, financial, and relationship problems due to any type of addiction one may have.

The director said that the center doesn’t look to just lecture students, but to help them gain personal insight.

“There’s a continuum, a spectrum with addiction,” Stephan Hains said. “Students are on the early track, and we get them to understand where they’re headed in 10 years.”

One initiative that the center has implemented to help students dealing with addiction is their weekly Al-Anon meetings during Bengal Pause on Tuesdays. It’s an opportunity for students to share their experiences, hope and strengths in order to solve the problems that many of them share.

The center is also starting to screen students who have depression.

“This is a stressful world,” Stephan Hains said. “There’s a high level of depression among college students due to finances, academics, society, relationships and family.”

The director said that the center takes care of a lot of different issues for students.

“We don’t only see people with colds and STI’s — we also pick up cancer and aneurysms, and we screen for depression and substance abuse,” Stephan Hains said.

Stephan Hains is proud of the city that she calls home and works to make this city campus a better, healthier place for students.

“We care,” Stephan Hains said. “We’re helping students to succeed, graduate, and go on to the next part of their life.”

Weigel Health Center is open 8:30 a.m. -8:00 p.m. Monday – Thursday and 8:30 a.m. -5:00 p.m. on Friday.

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Twitter: @LiveWithColly