A Reassuring Voice

an illustration of a nurse conducting a virtual visit on a cell phone

Last March, Emory Healthcare opened its COVID RN Hotline

to make sure anyone seeking information about COVID-19 could speak to a registered nurse. The hotline reached its peak volume in July, with more than 21,000 calls. Calls have now decreased, says Natalie Rogers, senior manager of clinical operations, due to a host of good reasons, including “vaccinations, mask ordinances, the honoring of social distancing guidelines, people washing their hands frequently, and more knowledge about the virus.” Nurse Kelly Hood says, “We battled fear-based disinformation. It can be tough for any organization that provides health care to get ahead of the game on that.” Callers are now focused on vaccination questions. “People were told it was best to avoid taking anything for mild symptoms after receiving the vaccine, which is false,” Hood says. “Yet a good portion of people believed it and suffered through what could have easily been alleviated with hydration or Tylenol.” Nurse Jovonni Patrick says callers expressed emotions ranging from calm to panic. But most were grateful to speak with a nurse who could guide them on how to remain safe. “Some days were more challenging than others,” says Patrick. “You have to have outlets, mini-meditation sessions, step away for a few minutes and remind yourself that you are making a difference. That was key for me, as well as patients telling me they’re thankful for our help, and that after speaking with us, they feel better.”

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