In the fall of 2009, Ask Children’s(TM) began a unique transformation. Four registered nurses began working remotely from home to help cover periods of high call volumes and staff absences.
“When we get a surge of calls, our nurses can get on the phone in a matter of minutes from home and help until the calls slow down,” said Kay Kirtley, manager of Ask Children’s(TM). “We are usually busy from 7-9 a.m. It’s impractical for someone to drive to work for two hours but it’s easy for them to jump on the phone and pitch in.”
Kirtley said the program has enabled her to be more precise in scheduling and staffing, which is ultimately more cost effective.
In December, Kirtley moved five more registered nurses to their home offices. “The program works because the nurses make it work,” said Kirtley. “They often take the initiative to log in during typically busy times and start taking calls, which has been a huge help.”
Ask Children’s(TM) nurses answer calls round-the-clock. While calls from the general public are taken on weekdays from 8 a.m. -4:30 p.m., nurses take patient calls for doctors’ offices after hours and on weekends.
“We have contracts with physician practices across the state as well as in Kentucky and Indiana,” said Kirtley. “When Cincinnati got hit by a severe snow storm and physician offices began closing at about 1 p.m. that’s when we started getting calls.”