You wake up in the middle of the night with a sore throat and cough. Without getting out of bed, you call 888-700-6543, the toll-free number for the Yale-New Haven Nurse Advice Line, and are connected with a nurse in Knoxville, Tenn. She takes your demographic information, asks for your symptoms and advises you about seeking medical attention and caring for yourself with home treatments.

This scenario describes only one service offered by the Yale-New Haven Health Call Center, a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week center that — in addition to the nurse advice line — also provides physician referrals, registration for different health classes and events and general health information from an audio library. The center, which has grown since its creation in 1999, serves mostly Connecticut residents, as well as some out-of-state and international callers.

Phyllis Copeland, a triage nurse working on the Nurse Advice Line, said her callers range from new mothers seeking advice on infant care to college students needing basic advice for treating a cold at home.

“We can help you remember the things Mom might know when you don’t have her around in college,” Copeland said.

The YNHH call center, which connects callers to services through the Bridgeport, Greenwich and Yale-New Haven Hospitals, now receives about ten times as many calls as it did in 2000, with 114,000 calls projected for 2004. Ann Marie Bonvini, manager of the call center, said that the expansion of the center in 2002 to serve callers around the clock has helped the numbers grow.

“The need was there before, but people couldn’t always call during office hours or on weekdays,” Bonvini said. “That’s one reason why the center has become so successful.”

Jan Taylor, manager of marketing and Internet services at Yale-New Haven Hospital, said that even though calls to the center may be fielded by nurses and information providers as far away as Tennessee or Texas, mail and all information about callers is collected by a central office in New Haven. She said that because anyone can call the center toll-free, important health information is more accessible to the community than in the past.

“The services Yale-New Haven Hospital provides through our call center are free, creating a tremendous benefit to the New Haven community,” Taylor said.

Taylor said that in addition to the audio library — from which callers can choose to hear recordings about more than 1,000 health topics over the phone, many available in Spanish — the call center offers a Women’s Heart Advantage Program to educate women about heart health.

“The call center is a really comprehensive approach to providing people with a large variety of different resources,” Taylor said.

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