DVIDS – News – Innovation, One Call at a Time

Photo By Seaman Ariana Torman |
PORTSMOUTH, Va. (July 22, 2020) – Mary Hoffman, a nurse at ADM Joel T. Boone Branch…
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PORTSMOUTH, Va. (July 24, 2020) – Naval Medical Center Portsmouth (NMCP) is continuing its innovative commitment in support of the fight against COVID-19 through the use of its COVID Call Center.
The Call Center began on March 9, and was manned by just one nurse at the time. As the pandemic grew, the call center also grew, topping out with more than 30 nurses, answering over 17,000 calls, and at its peak, scheduling an average of 300-350 people a day to be tested for COVID-19 at NMCP’s drive-thru testing site.
The original mission of the COVID Call Center was to provide information about the growing global pandemic. It quickly shifted from an information only platform as the demand for testing grew, and began incorporating one-stop scheduling for COVID testing in order to support and provide a seamless product to the operational forces.
“The call center has allowed our inpatient and Emergency Department to stay focused on providing excellent, patient-centered care to all beneficiaries,” said Lt. Cmdr. Aaron Daley, NMCP’s associate director of Medical Services.
One goal of the call center is to identify those patients who may be sick, and either direct them to see a healthcare professional, or quarantine themselves in their home to prevent further spread.
“The Call Center has allowed us to identify those patients who are low-risk and those who are higher risk and may need to come in to the hospital,” said Daley. “We routinely call positive patients to check on them, referring back to their triage sheet and medical history.”
Daley said the Call Center and its staff have been an indispensable assets to NMCP during the COVID outbreak.
“The nurses manning the Call Center are the frontlines of this hospital’s operations,” said Lt. Cmdr. Terry Brown, officer in charge of NMCP’s COVID-19 Call Center. “This innovation requires not only answering phones, but also creating reports and swab lists, printing orders, nursing triage, along with other administrative tasks.”
In early June, NMCP began to return to full operations. The increase of services and the decrease in calls, led to many of the Call Center’s staff returning to their primary departments to meet the demand of patient care.
Even with less staff, between June 15 and July 15 the call center answered 4,609 calls, referred 22 individuals to the Emergency Department, and scheduled 2,821 COVID tests.
In recent weeks the number of COVID positive cases in the Hampton Roads area has increased, but the staffing has remained lower because of the need to still provide those increased services. Because of that the call center has been experiencing longer than normal call wait times. Daley and the Call Center staff are currently implementing changes to reduce call wait times and increase patient satisfaction.
“It takes time to work out these administrative changes, but we appreciate our beneficiaries’ patience as we work to improve,” said Daley. “We’re operating in the world’s finest Navy, and we are here to support the fleet and our patients.”
As the U.S. Navy’s oldest, continuously-operating military hospital since 1830, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth proudly serves past and present military members and their families. The nationally-acclaimed, state-of-the-art medical center, along with the area’s 10 branch health and TRICARE Prime Clinics, provide care for the Hampton Roads area. The medical center also supports premier research and teaching programs designed to prepare new doctors, nurses and hospital corpsman.


Date Taken: 07.24.2020
Date Posted: 07.24.2020 15:50
Story ID: 374572
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