MIDLAND, Texas — Most of us have stumbled across a sickness or urgent health situation we didn't know much about, but who do we turn to for advice? Google? The ER? 911? Sometimes those aren't necessarily the best options.
"If you've got symptoms you're not sure if you need to go to the emergency room, if you need to see your physician, maybe it's just something that you can take care of at home.. then you can call, talk to a nurse. All the information that is provided is physician-driven guidelines," said Brandi McDonald, Director of 68 NURSE.
It's called "68 NURSE" is a free, 24 hour calling service Midland Memorial hospital has 365 days a year.
"We get all kinds of callers. A lot of the times we get moms with new babies, you know that kind of thing. And then typically we get, especially in the winter, a lot of calls about flu symptoms, colds and what to do about fevers," said McDonald.
"Abdominal pain, we get a wide range of all kinds of symptoms of people. Medication questions, a lot of people don't know we do things like that."
From medicine to mental health, McDonald says they've got your back.
"On average every month we get about 2,000 calls through 68 NURSE. Most of our patients, about 20 to 30% of those patients actually wind up going to the emergency room, so the majority of patients that call 68 NURSE really have alternative options," said McDonald
The hotline has saved thousands of trips to the ER, but most importantly.. lives, even from out of state.
"We have patients that call and say 'you know this nurse helped save my life', that kind of thing. And I think those are the calls that are probably the most exciting because patients will call, not really sure what they're gonna do," said McDonald.
"We've had patients call in and say they were going to stay home and we told them to call 911 and actually had nurses save their lives. So that's pretty amazing when you think about the compliments and the feedback that we receive about how the nurses have impacted someone's life and have helped them get the services that they really needed."
Midland residents can continue to call 68-NURSE (432-686-8773), but according to Dr. Bob Dent, vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer, the program also has added a toll-free number for those outside of Midland to call. That new number will be 855-68-NURSE.