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The following steps occurs when a patient calls the ED at Eastern Maine Medical Center (EMMC) in Bangor, ME, which outsources calls to a contact center that provides nurse triage services:
• The patients call the ED and ask to speak to a nurse or have a medical question.
• The patients are asked if they are calling about a problem they were seen for recently in the ED. If not, patients are asked to hold while they are connected to the EMMC Nurse Help Line.
• The patients’ calls are then forwarded to the service, where a nurse takes the calls and talks to the patients.
• The nurse’s responses and decision-making are guided by a computerized algorithm for different clinical problems.
• Where appropriate, at the end of the call the patients are advised to go to the ED or call their doctor in the morning for an appointment. The patient also can be connected to 911 or to their doctor’s answering service.
• A record of the calls is generated and sent immediately to the ED, if that is where the patient is sent, or to the patient’s doctor’s office.