News : NBHC Albany Opens 24-hour Nursing Triage Call Center
March 13, 2014 -- Naval Branch Health Clinic Albany announced plans recently to implement a Nurse Advice Line, which gives active-duty and retired service members and their beneficiaries, around-the-clock access to medical information and advice.
The NAL is a Department of Defense initiative developed to facilitate services that many hospitals already provide to their patients through call centers, according to Lt. Cmdr. Donald E. Mitchell, senior nurse, NBHC Albany.
"The Nurse Advice Line gives beneficiaries access to a 24-hour nursing triage," Mitchell said. "Instead of having to go to the emergency room, urgent care centers or (to ask a medical question), they can reach a nurse at a call center 24/7 (year-round)."
Mitchell further explained the NAL’s concepts, processes and the advantages to those using the services.
"Research and studies show that if individuals are able to reach a nurse after hours, it mitigates them going to the emergency room, thereby, avoiding costly appointments," Mitchell said. "That is a win-win situation for the patient."
According to Mitchell, any service member who is enrolled in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System meets the basic criteria for accessing this service.
"When eligible active-duty, retiree service members or their beneficiaries phone the NAL, a DEERS check is done to verify eligibility," he explained. "After the (verification) check, the nursing staff will tell the patient one-of-two things, ‘You need to go the nearest emergency room,’ or ‘This can wait so we will schedule an appointment for you.’"
The Department of the Navy, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery issued a memorandum Nov. 21, 2013 outlining additional facts concerning NAL.
According to the memo, Navy medicine beneficiaries will have access to advice from registered nurses, while utilizing standard triage protocols.
The memo stated that nurses will advise on appropriate levels of care ranging from emergency to self-care.
The NAL staff will book acute appointments as needed, provide follow-up care options, issue network urgent care authorizations, if needed, and will inform the primary care manager of every call to the NAL, the memo further explained.
Mitchell said, the only difference between services offered to active duty and those offered to some retirees is appointments cannot be made to primary care managers who are outside of the clinic’s network.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Tuesday, March 18, 2014