To recognize the professionals behind the province’s 8-1-1 hotline, this year’s theme for National Nursing Week is appropriately #WeAnswerTheCall.
The Canadian Nursing Association said they selected this year’s theme to highlight the many roles nurses play in a patient’s health-care journey.
Nonavee MacDonald, a Fraser Health nurse who provides health information on the 8-1-1 phone line, says the pandemic has resulted in a spike in calls fueled in part by the provincial government and media advertising the resource.
“We’ve always had a steady stream of calls that come into us, but even more so now,” she said.
Routine visits to the family-physician and check-ups with healthcare providers became daunting tasks as COVID-19 took hold in communities – many fearing to venture out of their home.
But thankfully nurses were there to “answer the call.”
@canadanurses new corporate video sheds light on the many roles that nurses play in Canada. Save the date on May 10, 12 p.m. ET, for the online launch! https://t.co/IXOPzz3fIv#CNA2021 #WeAnswerTheCall #IKnowANurse pic.twitter.com/2kqi5RUji3
— Canadian Nurses Assn (@canadanurses) May 5, 2021
“We’re there to help to support in the decision making process,” MacDonald explained. “There is a lot of hesitancy to go to emergency rooms and I think it’s great how our system has adapted.”
Operated by HealthLink BC, an arm of the Ministry of Health, the 8-1-1 hotline is a free-of-charge provincial health information and advice phone line available to residents across the province, including right here in the community.
A nurse helps work through a caller’s symptoms, MacDonald noted, providing education on how they can be managed and whether they need to seek in-person care.
“This is great service,” she said, noting people are encouraged to call back should they need.
Although the service was available pre-pandemic, the need for the resource and trained professionals on the other end of the telephone, was compounded by the COVID-19 health emergency.
In the early stages of the pandemic, the provincial government asked those who developed symptoms of COVID-19 to contact a nurse at 8-1-1 and arrange to get tested. Now booking appointments has transitioned to an online system.
But the phone line is a resource that extends far beyond questions about COVID-19.
By contacting 8-1-1, a member of the public can connect to a registered nurse who can assist with non-emergency health concerns, discuss symptoms and procedures, and recommend whether an individual should see a healthcare provider in-person.
“At any time of the day or night, every day of the year, you can call 8-1-1 to ask a registered nurse your health questions,” the province advertises.
But MacDonald notes the service doesn’t only connect the public to a nurse, rather it also provides access to dietitians, exercise professionals and pharmacists.
It was an honour to virtually meet these amazing members of @BCNursesUnion today! I am also honoured to lead Bhangra sessions during National Nursing Week activities (May 10 – 16) for joy and positivity. Thanks, Nurses ðŸ™ðŸ½ https://t.co/FYMURhBStx
— Gurdeep Pandher of the Yukon (@GurdeepPandher) May 5, 2021
To celebrate National Nursing Week from May 10-16, the British Columbia Nurses’ Union said, the province has arranged for a week of virtual sessions including “inspiring presentations that focus on resilience and self care, as well as interactive fitness classes.”
To register, members of the union can visit www.bcnu.org/news-and-events/events-calendar/2021/nnw2021.
To commemorate the week, the public is encouraged to share photos and stories online using #WeAnswerTheCall and #IKnowANurse.
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