People of CSU - Karen Borneman, M.D.

Tucked away on the second floor of the Center for Innovations in Medical Professions is Cleveland State University’s Health and Wellness Services waiting room. There you can find a motorcycle riding, belly dancing, physician in an N95 mask with a black stethoscope draped around her neck, darting around to check that everything, and everyone, is in its place. 

Meet Karen Borneman, Doctor of Family Medicine, who has been with Cleveland State University’s Health and Wellness Services since 1989.

Her exam room and office are decorated with her name in various languages from international students, gifts from colleagues and CSU mementos, like an old chair from Fenn tower. These items are a testament to the mutual respect she has for her patients and dedication to health care at CSU. 

“I kind of always wanted to do something medical, I think,” Borneman said. “My first Halloween costume I can remember, mind you this was the late 50s, was a nurses costume.” 

Growing up Borneman wanted to be a physician or a veterinarian. She learned to draw blood on cats and dogs in an animal clinic where she worked as a teenager for several years. 

“People are easy compared to dogs and cats,” she said. 

After high school Borneman attended the University of Kentucky College of Medicine on a pre-med scholarship. She graduated in 1979 and completed her residency in Family Medicine. 

After graduating, Borneman moved to Cleveland and worked as a physician and medical director for the Free Clinic of Greater Cleveland, now known as Circle health. 

When asked why she came to Ohio she responded with a laugh. 

“A boy,” she said. “That and I was ready to see something different.”

In 1989, while working for the free clinic, Borneman met a CSU physician who she would “unofficially cover for” while he was away. At this time, CSU was looking to expand their health services, so Borneman applied and was accepted as a full time contractor in 1990 and was officially hired by CSU in 2014.

During her time at the university, Borneman has had the chance to see many interesting medical conditions such as Hansen’s disease and Malaria. She has also built “continuity” with faculty, staff and patients, serving up to three generations of students. 

“I remember a physician colleague said to me once, college health, that's gotta be boring, a bunch of colds, sore throats, an STD or two,” Borneman recalled. “And everything, even something I will look at the schedule and think, oh this doesn’t look very exciting today, and somebody will throw me an interesting curveball.” 

On a typical day, Borneman arrives at work around  7 a.m. Upon arrival she will start up the computers, check on lab work, log freezer and refrigerator temperatures, call people about abnormal labs and, because of short staffing, assist in scheduling appointments. 

“This is the longest I’ve sat down, and here it is almost two o’clock,” Borneman told the Stater during the interview. “Thank you for the opportunity.”

Outside of healthcare Borneman shared that she used to ride motorcycles and belly dance. She currently enjoys gardening and claims to make the best pesto in the world. 

About Health and Wellness Services

Health and Wellness Services is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Center for Innovations in Medical Professions, 2122 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland.

Health and wellness services cannot do sutures, x-rays, orthopaedics, take walk-ins or come to emergency situations. 

“If something is bad, call Cleveland state police at 2020 so they can get the right things happening,” Borneman said.  

The center is staffed by certified nurse practitioners and doctors, offering primary and same day care, health counseling, limited in-house pharmacy and lab services, shots and immunizations, and more. 

According to Borneman, Health and Wellness Services is a great way for college students to save money on health care. They can bill insurances and if they cannot they are upfront about the cost. 

For more information, visit the Health and Wellness Services website