HaysMed provides nurse hotline
By KALEY CONNER
Hays Medical Center has launched a new after-hours hotline that will enable patients and community members to seek free medical advice from registered nurses.
The service is geared toward people in the community who do not have an established health care provider, said Carol Groen, manager for special projects.
"This is an alternative for them to talk to a nurse," she said. "Some patients just want medical advice. They might want information on flu or fever control or STDs, just all kinds of different reasons people call for information."
The phone number is the same as HaysMed's OneCall hotline, 1-855-HaysMed. The nurse hotline will be available from 4:30 p.m. to 8 a.m. Monday to Friday, and 24/7 on weekends and holidays.
The service is staffed by specially trained nurses who follow protocols for adult and pediatric care.
The hotline ties in to national iniatives to lower health care costs. It's hoped the hotline will help reduce the number of unnecessary emergency room visits.
Those who do not have an established physician sometimes end up making a trip to the ER just to access basic health care and have their questions answered, Groen said. Emergency visits are one of the most costly ways to access the health care system.
"A lot of people don't necessarily want to come to the ER. They would like to stay home if they could, but because they can't get that information they need, it's better for them at that point to come to ER," she said.
HaysMed clinics will continue to offer on-call services, so established patients still can contact their health care providers after business hours. Patients who have follow-up questions from a clinic or hospital visit should contact the health care providers who cared for them.
Nurses contacted via the hotline will be able to offer medical advice, which could range from a parent needing the correct dose for children's fever reducers to a patient experiencing mild symptoms and trying to decide whether to come to the hospital, Groen said.
The nurses also will be able to assist with prescription refills, if needed.
The hotline launched Aug. 15. The program is starting small, but Groen said organizers expect the service to be popular as word continues to spread.
It could be useful, she said, as flu season approaches this winter. Patients and non-patients will be able to call in with questions and get treatment recommendations without going to a medical clinic and exposing others to the virus.
"I think it's a valuable resource in the community for those folks who don't have a provider to call and ask those questions or get that advice," she said. "And that can be today, or prior to making a trip to the ER."