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Abstract | Hot Topics | Care Innovation



Using a COVID-19 RN Advice Line 

In early February 2020, U.S. health care systems watched with growing concern as COVID-19 reached the nation, affecting states, local communities and the entire health care infrastructure. Nationally, the number of patients with COVID-19 symptoms, confirmed exposures and potential exposures dramatically increased between February and early March 2020 (Omer, S. B., Malani, P., and Del Rio, C., 2020). Urgent and emergency care services swelled as anxious patients overwhelmed hospital and medical office phone lines, seeking information and reassurance. In order to manage the public’s mounting fears and anxieties around COVID-19, Sutter Health developed a solution—an RN advice line —in five business days.

Sutter Health, based in Sacramento, an integrated network of clinicians, employees and volunteers, provides care to more than 3.5 million northern Californians. With the number of COVID-19 cases rising, Sutter leaders recognized the need to mobilize a workforce that could triage an unknown number of patients experiencing symptoms to the right level of care quickly. The COVID-19 RN advice line was Sutter’s first line of intervention for patients worried about COVID-19.

COVID-19 protocols were rapidly developed; advice line training was created and recently displaced RNs were recruited to staff it. This telephone-based advice line was made available to surrounding communities, allowing potential victims of this emerging disaster to receive information and seek treatment.

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