Norton Sound Health Corporation is changing the way its 24-hour medical advice phone service operates.
Advanced practice providers, including nurse practitioners and physician assistants, will be the ones picking up the phone when a regional resident dials up the formerly named Nurse Call Line.
NSHC has renamed its service the Provider Care Line to reflect the change.
“We heard from our customer-owners around the region, and we listened,” said Kirsten Timbers, vice president of Community Health Services. “Healthcare issues can come up at any time of day, and it’s important that we have a caring provider take our call. As a mom, I look forward to having a provider take my call in the wee hours of the night, when I need medical or mental health help.”
In 2017, NSHC rolled out the call line service to residents of the region to help provide care over the phone. The Nurse Call Line successfully increased patient access to care advice and helped alleviate the after-hours, on-call work of community health aides in regional communities.
For the last five years, the call line has been operated by nurses in the NSHC Emergency Department. When medical issues arose, the nurses were able to triage patients and either provide advice and education over the phone or connect the patients to their local healthcare providers in an emergency.
Since its implementation, the call line has served around 4,250 individual patients in over 20,200 phone calls. In about 40% of the calls, the nurse was able to help provide home care or to advise the patient to follow up in their clinic during regular hours.
With advance practice providers on the other end of the line, a phone call is now more equal to a healthcare visit. Many of the providers who answer the phone have practiced in the regional clinics and know the patients and health aides.
During business hours and after hours if ever a provider is unavailable, an Emergency Department nurse will pick up the phone. The nurse will either take a message and send it to the provider, so the provider can call the patient back as soon as possible, or, in an emergency, the nurse will contact the local on-call health aide.
Callers can be confident in the medical knowledge of the provider taking their call and that they will continue to act fast in emergencies and connect them with their local healthcare responders.