News sections of all the major news papers are loaded with stories of swine flu or H1N1 virus. The thing is flu season is generally busy time for hospitals due to distribution of season flu shots. One of my friends is pharmacist at Sams Club. She is expecting and had to on the weekend to work because it was flu shot day and her vigilance was absolute necessary. As one of the news papers defined this flu season as double-whammy (seasonal and swine flu), hospitals are seeing a huge influx of patients. State of Minnesota is setting up an example by setting up free public health service that parallels nurse hot lines provided by large clinics and insurers.
The number of people worrying about the swine flu is increasing day by day and hence these nurse hotlines will be a help to the hospitals. Minnesota state government has taken the initiative but many other states such as Texas and California are also working along the same lines. Minnesota State plans to contract with a private vendor to provide the service, which will be financed with $5 million in federal emergency funds.
- Reduce burden to hospitals and clinics to screen patients that suspect that they have swine flu
- Provide access to anti-viral drugs medicine to people who are at risk of swine flu
- Save people hospital visits and co-pays, especially people who do not have health insurance
The hotlines are in planning stage. State officials are working through the details. I would suggest that you keep an eye on such services...
in your state and tell your family and friends, when you get to know about it.
How nurses will help people?
- Ask callers about their symptoms and underlying health conditions
- Make recommendation on whether they need medical attention
- Prescribe medicine, particularly antiviral, such as Tamiflu
What are the major reasons for setting up nurse hotlines?
- Surge in number of patients going to hospitals
- Delay in getting the swine flu vaccines. Currently, the quantity of vaccine is limited and in Minnesota it is expected that shots will not be widely available to general public until after Thanksgiving
- Existing nurse hotline such as provided by Health Partner is overburdened. So, there is demand for more, free nurse hotlines.
Aggie Leitheiser, head of emergency preparedness for the state Health Department, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has encouraged states to think of new ways to handle the demand for information and guidance on flu. Most of you might know that Minnesota is hub of medical device companies and has taken the right initiative of dealing with the swine flu epidemic. Keep an eye for such hotlines in your neighborhood.