If you wake up at 2 a.m. and have severe stomach pains or you’re a new parent and your baby’s fever spikes, who would you call? To ease your worry, expert nursing advice is one phone call away at Northwell Health’s round-the-clock Clinical Call Center.
A team of nurses certified in emergency medical dispatch are always on duty to answer health questions and help you decide the best and safest course of action. The Clinical Call Center’s services are available to approximately 60,000 employees and dependents enrolled in the Northwell United Healthcare benefit plan.
“We’re your neighborhood nurse and we serve as a safety net,” said, Jeffrey Pick, RN, the Clinical Call Center’s program director. A former paramedic and nurse at Glen Cove Hospital, Mr. Pick noted that nurses can address almost every medical situation, using a computerized database of 215 protocols. “This ensures that every caller receives evidence-based recommendations and a consistent standard of care.”
Before discussing symptoms, nurses ask for a name, address and phone number — in case a caller goes into distress, Mr. Pick said. “This way, we can dispatch a Northwell ambulance to a patient’s home,” he added. “A primary goal is to triage the patient to the appropriate level of care which can help to avoid unnecessary hospitalizations.”
Here’s how one caller’s medical situation played out. This past October, Emily Silvia, a program manager for Northwell’s Healthy Living Program, was rear-ended in a car accident on her morning commute. She said the impact left her “a bit dazed and confused” but she worked half a day anyway. The next day she woke up tired, achy and a bit foggy and drove to her office. “My colleagues urged me to call the Clinical Call Center,” Ms. Silvia said. “I spoke with an experienced nurse who asked me a series of questions to determine what the right next step was. Ultimately, it was recommended I go to the Emergency Department. A coworker drove me to North Shore University Hospital. I was surprised I was diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome and was advised to take time off from work for brain rest.”
Ms. Silvia urged other employees to take advantage of the service: “It’s convenient, you get objective medical information and it’s a free second opinion over the phone.”
One of the facility’s nurse specialists is ready for nearly any scenario. Edward Jablonski, RN, the call center’s supervisor, brings extensive emergency medicine skills to the job. He previously served as a medic in the US Army and was a cardiothoracic nurse at Southside Hospital.
“Outside the Emergency Department, we can bridge the gap in medical care 24/7 – and that’s extremely rewarding.
“We can get our callers immediate help and not push their care to the next day,” Mr. Jablonski added. “We even make urgent care appointments.”
Following the same federal privacy laws as hospitals, the Clinical Call Center has access to employees’ electronic health records. Having health histories and medications upfront enhances care and saves time.
Northwell’s Clinical Call Center is accredited as a center of excellence by the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch – only the second center worldwide to receive the distinction. Part of Health Solutions, the call center fielded 23,000 calls last year. It’s located in the Syosset-based Center for Emergency Medical Services.
“Callers are truly amazed at the resources they have at their disposal. The call center is like having a nurse in your pocket,” Mr. Jablonski added.