Another milestone was hit this week at Avera McKennan. The Ask-A-Nurse program celebrates its 20th anniversary and coincidentally took its one millionth phone call. We talked to some of the nurses who have helped you over the years sometimes in the middle of the night.
On average, these phones ring 200 times a day. And 200 times a day for 20 years those calls are always answered by a comforting calming voice with medical experience. Avera's Ask-A-Nurse program started back in 1990 as a way of providing a quality service to the community absolutely free.
Registered Nurse Carla Deutsch came to the Ask-A-Nurse phone bank after spending 15 years on the floor at Avera McKennan. A back injury required her to get off her feet for a while, but she loved the job so much she stayed. That was 19 years ago. She says it's nice to still be able to use her training to help others, which most often times, involves new parents.
Carla Deutsch, RN says, "Yeah, we get a lot of calls from young parents with babies. I think they are looking for reassurance that they are doing the right thing. Plus, we give them some ideas to try and if it's not working to call their doctor in the morning. It saves them a trip to the ER that wasn't necessary."
The great thing about Ask-A-Nurse, no matter what time you call 3:00 in the afternoon or 3:00 in the morning, there is always a registered nurse on duty to take that call. While most of the calls are symptom based, they do get asked about anything and everything under the sun.
Rosemary Murphy is the Nurse Manager of the Call Center. She told us about a call she got earlier in the day. She says, "A lady called and had just finished doing a load of laundry and was taking the clothes out of the washer and saw something black. It turned out it was a dead bat, I should say a drowned bat and she said what should I do? I told her to re-wash her clothes in beach which she had and I gave her the number of animal control and the health department. It's never a boring day here."
After 20 years and a million calls, we have grown to trust and rely on these folks to put us at ease and point us in the right direction and for that we say thanks! I know we'll be talking again real soon.
The Ask-A-Nurse number locally is 605-322-6877 or the number we always give you for more information which is toll free 1-877-AT-AVERA.
The Call Center has also been awarded the McKesson RelayHealth iCARE Pinnacle Award nationally recognizing their service.