VA New Jersey Health Care System
VA NURSES HELPLINE - 1-800-877-6976
The VA New York/New Jersey Veterans Healthcare Network Telephone Care Program is a network-wide initiative developed by Nursing Service with a goal of increasing access to care for veterans served in the New York/New Jersey area. Veterans are to call their clinics during the administrative work week which is Monday through Friday from 8:00am to 4:30pm excluding National Holidays. After 4:30pm and on weekends and Federal Holidays, veterans, their families and significant others are able to contact an experienced and knowledgeable registered professional nurse by calling 1-800-877-6976. The Registered Nurses answer healthcare questions.
This program was chosen nationally - as one of the top ten (it was fourth) - as an innovative nursing practice by the Department of Veteran Affairs. It was suggested that this program be the benchmark for Consolidated Telephone Care Programs in all Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers.
The VISN3 Telephone Triage/VA Nurses Helpline is a service available to all veterans in the VISN 3 area. This includes the VA Medical Centers in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Hudson Valley, New Jersey, Northport and their associated satellite clinics. Local VA healthcare contacts are available to veterans outside this area.
All telephone calls are answered by a staff of professional registered nurses who are experienced in critical care, telephone assessment, and crisis intervention. The triage nurses take advantage of many varied resources to help veterans and their families, such as computerized patient records, physicians, pharmacists, medical administrators, triage protocols and computer/hard copy references. Our triage nurses provide both medical and emotional support. They can help with a wide variety of problems and/or concerns that can include, but are not limited to, the following:
- symptom analysis
- first aid procedures
- medication questions
- lab test results
- patient education concerning specific disease entities, such as diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol
- preparation for certain procedures
- check appointments
- caregiver support
DO NOT CALL the VA Nurse Helpline for an emergency. If you, or the party of concern, have chest pain, difficulty breathing, loss of consciousness, severe bleeding or injury, poison ingestion, seizure, loss of vision or any other life threatening problem, CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY.
Healthcare professionals can utilize the Telephone Triage nurses to make follow-up calls to patients with acute problems. Examples include checking in on a newly diagnosed diabetic recently started on insulin or calling a patient waiting for the results of a lab test before starting antibiotic therapy. This type of call can help reinforce teaching, help allay the patient's anxiety, and preserve continuity of care. It will also serve to increase patient satisfaction.
Additionally, follow-up calls are made to selected patients who have ambulatory surgery on a Friday or prior to a holiday.
The Telephone Triage/VA Nurses Helpline staff consists of enthusiastic, caring nurses who are committed to helping the veteran patient, their families and their significant others. They provide quality service, improve access to comprehensive primary care and preserve continuity of care.
STEPS IN TELEPHONE TRIAGE: When you call the VA Nurse's HELPLINE, we will need to ask you some questions to determine what your needs are. Listed below are the questions and procedures you will encounter on a typical call:
- 1) Caller identification
- • Who are you and what is your last 4 numbers of your Social Security Number?
- • Which VA Medical Center do you usually go to for medical attention?
- • What is the reason for calling the HELPLINE?
- 2) Review records on computer
- • Nurse asks a series of questions and makes decisions
- 3) Intervention
- • call 911
- • go to the Emergency Room
- • call for a clinic appointment
- • give you home care instructions and to see your doctor at next scheduled appointment
- 4) The phone call is documented in your medical record and all clinical calls are forwarded to your provider.
The Nurse will advise you to either
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