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Lessons learned in implementing a 24/7 public health call center in response to H1N1 in the state of New Jersey

Terry Clancy, PhD, Christopher Neuwirth, BA, Glenn Bukowski, MA

Abstract


Objective: The purpose of this article was to collect, examine, and report the data obtained in response to opening a 24/7 Call Center in response to the H1N1 influenza outbreak in the State of New Jersey in the Spring of 2009. Design: Data log sheets were collected and analyzed based on phone calls received into the State of New Jersey H1N1 Call Center during the initial response to the H1N1 public health emergency from April to May 2009. Data were stratified to examine the types of calls received, where they originated, and the types of organizations/agencies that needed guidance/information during the initial response to the H1N1 public health emergency. Additionally, lessons learned from this operational response were documented. Results: 3,855 calls were received and analyzed during the first 8 days of commencing the H1N1 Call Center. Signs and symptoms were the main category of questions asked, representing 31.2 percent of the call volume. Of the 3,855 calls, 216 (5.6 percent) were from agencies, such as healthcare institutions. Multiple lessons learned were documented from a planning and operations perspective. Conclusions: Communication to the general public is paramount to ensure accurate information is being conveyed during a public health response. The lessons learned from this operation are currently being utilized in response to the H1N1 influenza outbreak during the Fall of 2009.

Keywords


call center, crisis communication, H1N1 response, public health emergency response

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References


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5055/ajdm.2009.0037

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