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Six months and more than 170,000 calls later, COVID-19 Call Center continues to evolve

call center

Christian Pettker, MD (standing, left) and Maribeth Cabie (standing, right) on the first day of YNHHS’ COVID-19 Call Center, March 9. To accommodate its growth, expanded functions and social distancing, the center moved from a North Pavilion conference room to other locations and is now staffed by employees working remotely.

Of all the technology Yale New Haven Health has used during the COVID-19 crisis, one tool has proven invaluable: the telephone.

It has been particularly effective in the hands of employees and physicians who staff YNHHS’ COVID-19 Call Center. Designed and launched in just a few days, the Center quickly became a source of reliable information and expertise.

As of Sept. 9, its six-month anniversary, the Center had handled 171,324 calls from throughout the United States, Canada and as far as Jamaica and Tanzania. The Center averages more than 1,000 calls daily, but on its busiest day, March 16, received 2,676 calls. Advanced practice providers and resident and attending physicians staffing the Center have performed more than 15,256 telehealth assessments in the past six months. Occupational Health Call Center staff handled more than 25,000 inquiries from YNHHS and Yale Medicine employees.

“At first, the Call Center’s role was to manage the confusion surrounding COVID-19 by answering questions about symptoms and prevention and providing phone or video consultations when indicated for patients with symptoms,” said Maribeth Cabie, director, YNHHS Clinical Redesign. “The Center still provides these services, but continues to adapt to a frequently changing situation.”

Call Center staff, who come from a variety of departments, also provide COVID testing scheduling, travel information, mental health support and pulse-oximetry monitoring for some patients.

As YNHHS moves through its transformation phase, the Call Center’s role continues to expand. In July and August, the Center helped with test scheduling for asymptomatic employees and patients. It also helped with pre-procedure test coordination, allowing the hospital to more easily resume normal operations. In the future, the Call Center could serve as an entry point into YNHHS for all patients, providing both clinical and non-clinical functions.

“This nerve center continues to provide valuable insight into the community,” said Christian Pettker, MD, YNHHS associate chief quality officer. “We look forward to continuing to meet our communities’ needs through our transformation into the next version of the Call Center: A portal for future care beyond just COVID-19.”

The Call Center may be reached at 203-688-1700, or 833-275-9644 (833-ASK-YNHH). It is staffed 7 am - 7 pm seven days a week. During off hours, a “bot” provides general guidance and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 Hotline information.