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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Nurses diagnose by phone

Amir Adib / Arizona Daily Wildcat Shari Overland, nursing supervisor at Campus Health is giving student a diagnosis of his symptoms over the phone. Student can now call in and describe their symptoms over the phone and receive the nurse’s diagnosis and plans for treatment.

Students can get diagnosed and treated for seasonal and swine flu over the phone, using Campus Health’s new “”flu nurse”” phone service.

A student with flu like symptoms can call Campus Health and schedule a telephone appointment with a nurse. The nurse will then call back and ask the student a series of questions to determine if the flu could be the cause of the symptoms. If the student fits the flu protocol, the student is then given instructions for treatment, Terri West, Administrative Associate with Campus Health, said.

Campus Health implemented the phone service the second week of September in response to this year’s flu season which has been unlike any other Campus Health has dealt with, West said.

“”This year, it started very early. Normally we don’t expect to see flu until this time of year, but we started seeing it the first week of school. And this one’s vey contagious, and we’ve been seeing a lot of students. Our numbers on Monday (November 2nd), the students walking through triage, were the highest we have ever had,”” she said.

Phone diagnosis is a good way to keep contagious flu patients at home, Mary Pasternacki, nurse practitioner, said.

“”The flu is so common right now and the symptoms are pretty easily identified and it’s so contagious, I think it’s really good that they can stay at home and keep their symptoms there instead of coming into the office and infecting everybody else,”” she said.

Pasternacki said that patients should not rely solely on phone treatment.

“”There’s always the risk of misdiagnosis, or someone omitting some symptoms that are important or misrepresenting some symptoms. The most important thing is that if it doesn’t seem to be going like the usual symptoms then to get rechecked,”” she said.

Campus Health uses the phone service not only to diagnose flu-like symptoms, but to determine if certain symptoms necessitate scheduling an appointment with a Camus Health provider, West said.

Miles Hearn, a geosciences junior, recently called into the flu nurse after waking up with a high fever.

“”Because I didn’t have all the symptoms, they said I could either wait until those symptoms showed up or just come in,”” Hearn said.

Even if flu nurses find a student to have all the symptoms necessary to make a phone diagnosis, they still do not tell students that they have the flu, West said.

“”They’re diagnosed with an influenza-like illness. There’s no confirmation with that,”” she said.

The already high number of cases of swine flu is expected to increase within the next couple of weeks, Pasternacki said.

“”It’s going to peak again in another couple of weeks, right around Thanksgiving, when people start moving and going home and getting in touch with family. So hopefully if you get your H1N1 (shot) as soon as you can, then hopefully you’ll be protected again for the big traveling of Thanksgiving time,”” she said.

Campus Health had an H1N1 vaccination clinic this past Monday, but Campus heath does not know when the next shipment of vaccines will be available to students.  West recommends that students check Campus Health’s website for updates related to the Flu and future vaccination clinics.

With the expected increase of H1N1 cases, West said that Campus Health prefers students call a flu nurse before coming in.

“”We have a lot of people walking in. The lobbies are full, and this is a way, if you’re feeling yucky, to stay where you are and make that call, and it’s good to make that call anyway to try and make an appointment,”” she said.

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