By: Mireya Tagle & Guadalupe Perez, staff writers
Long Beach State students who need medical help or have questions can continue to seek aid even after the Student Health Center is closed through its After-Hours Nurse Advice Line.
SHS added the After Hours Nurse Advice Line back in June 2018. In a little over a year, the health center has seen a growth in the usage of this program.
Angela Girard, a registered nurse and co-director of student health services, wants students to feel comfortable asking questions regarding an issue they might be dealing with.
“If they’re not feeling well, they’re not feeling alone,” Girard said. “There’s someone they can reach to.”
Girard said that the health center has always wanted to incorporate a program that could support students after hours and on weekends but it had to take the budget into consideration.
It wasn’t until CSULB’s Students Health Services reached out to other California State Universities for more input that it became familiar with the phone agency.
“We have a contract with them where we designate, [and] give them all of our local resources so they know where to refer the student to during those off-hours if they need to go to the hospital or urgent care,” Girard said.
The nurses who are on duty during the after-hours work in collaboration with telehealth agency, Fonemed. The company provides medical services that are then used at university health centers.
According to the agency its telemedicine services, like the nurse advice line, can help “coordinate, schedule and communicate with the student’s family and care providers so that they can maintain optimum health and optimize college, university and other education without interruptions.” Many campuses within the CSU system have partnered with Fonemed including Humboldt State University, California State University, San Bernardino and California State University, Northridge.
Faye Mayo, one of the registered nurses at SHS, said the calls made to the hotline vary from student to student. Each day, the hotline receives around five to 10 calls. The subjects of the calls range from how to tend to a common cold to questions about birth control.
Mayo is the nurse who follows up with all the students that have used the hotline.
“I try to calm them down and then figure out what it is that they really need and then send them to the appropriate person to go to,” Mayo said. “So a lot of times I end up having them come [to SHS] or I end up scheduling them an appointment to see one of our clinicians here as a follow up from the initial phone call.”
During regular office hours at SHS, the advice line is turned off. If a student were to call the advice line during such hours then their call would be redirected to the front desk.
Once the health center closes at its normal business hours, the advice line is available until the next morning. However, on Fridays, the line becomes available at 5 p.m. and remains open throughout the weekend until Monday morning at 8 a.m.
The nurses who are part of the advice line will answer any calls regardless of how late in the night it may be. However, the nurses attending the After-Hours advice line cannot prescribe students any medication. Mayo said that if a student were to need any type of medication then they would advise them to see a clinician at SHS or their private doctor.
Some students are not aware that SHS at CSULB offers an after-hours advice line, but they see the benefits.
Though the program initiated last summer, there are some students who feel it should be publicized more.
“It should be more announced and visible and available for students who don’t have healthcare or are uninsured,” said Devin Stewart, a Spanish major.
Lesley Gabriel Tacuba, a fourth-year Spanish major considers that this service is more resourceful than simply searching their symptoms on the web and self-diagnosing.
“Knowing it’s available for us at any time of the day eases the stress or the worries that we may have at the moment,” Gabriel Tacuba said.
Although the After-Hours Nurse Advice Line hasn’t been around for long, many students find the services provided to be a valuable resource to have on campus.
“I think it’s been working really well because it gives students a place or a number to call especially if things are happening acutely, and they need…support after hours or over the weekend,” Mayo said. “So it really is something that is a benefit for the students to be able to use.”
After-Hours Nurse Advice Line: 1-800-240-7617
24-Hour Crisis Assistance (CSULB On-Call Counselor): 562-985-4001