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COVID-19 hotline is open for third time at Buchanan County Health Center as cases rise

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BUCHANAN COUNTY, Iowa (KWWL) - The rise in COVID-19 cases is prompting more questions, therefor the Buchanan County Health Center has reopened its COVID-19 call center for a third time since the start of the pandemic. It was last open when there was another spike in positive cases.

"Once they kind of talk through some of that stuff they feel better, so I think it's helpful for them to talk to someone," Family Nurse Practitioner Bridget Baker said.

She is the one who answers the phone calls from folks who have questions about COVID-19.

The hotline reopened on September 1 and the first day brought in about 100 calls.

"Some people get really sick and some people are mildly ill, so I think it's just a lot of worry," Baker said.

The phone calls can help determine whether or not a patient, or the loved one a person is calling for, should be tested or go to the hospital for an appointment.

"When I'm taking the calls I look at the schedule to see which patients I feel like need to be seen and they're all full. It's hard to get people in right now," she said.

Many of the callers have mild symptoms that may call for a test, while others may have symptoms of another illness that isn't COVID-19 related. Those other illnesses are the reasons for the hospital beds filling up, and patients with COVID-19 adding to those numbers doesn't help.

Some patients who call in ask for advice about quarantining and whether they should get the vaccine. Doctors in the hospital see the calls and appointments as a way to provide guidance.

"It gives us an opportunity to be able to talk through some of those concerns they may have, and we cna kind of give them some feedback," Primary Care Physician Dr. Kurt House said.

Dr. House says he has experience with patients who have had a change of heart in regard to getting the vaccine. Many changing their minds after seeing more people getting sick with the virus, and hearing those words of encouragement come straight from a healthcare provider.

"Though they're not perfect, they're the best thing that we have," Dr. House said, "We have to continue to do all the things we have to mitigate."

The COVID-19 call center at the Buchanan County Health Center can be reached at 319-332-0972. It is open Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

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Diego Hernandez

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