AAN is a free, 24-hour service offered to the Kansas City community by calling 913-676-7777. Registered nurses can assist callers with questions about their health, physician referrals, wellness classes and even how to find the right nursing home for a family member. While many call centers are staffed with nurses who answer calls in locations throughout the country, AAN nurses are located on the SMMC campus.
AAN has received more than 2.4 million calls since it was started in August 1986. SMMC’s program is one of the original three AAN centers in the country, and the program has been duplicated hundreds of times in locations throughout the world. According to AAN manager Jennifer Smith, SMMC originally implemented the program to reduce the number of phone calls to the Emergency Department and to enhance the physician referral process.
“Before ASK-A-NURSE, hospital emergency rooms were inundated with phone calls and unnecessary visits that took the nursing and medical staff away from urgent and critical patients,” Smith said. “Simultaneously, consumers were facing increasing health care costs and having to navigate ‘gatekeeper’ HMOs to access care. ASK-A-NURSE provided new access for people with health concerns.”
Because AAN provides accurate, reliable health information, physician referrals and access to the appropriate level of care 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Emergency Department and other hospital staff have more time to focus on their patients.
“Callers feel confident with the advice they’re given and their calls are completely confidential,” added Smith.
AAN nurses have an average of 22 years nursing experience. Although they do not diagnose a caller’s symptoms, they can provide home care advice to ease symptoms or suggest emergency medical attention if necessary.
While most calls come from the Kansas City area, Smith said they have received calls from around the world. One caller was on a trip in Africa when she needed medical attention and remembered the AAN number.
“We were able to reassure her that the medical advice she was getting in Africa was in line with sound medical practices,” she said.
In addition to being available by phone, for less urgent questions an online form is available at ShawneeMission.org. Nurses will respond to your request in one business day.
AAN is just one more way that SMMC provides Much more than medicine to the community it serves.