HOUSTON, TX – The Texas Hospital Association has named Memorial Hermann Health System in Houston as the recipient of the 2021 Excellence in Community Service Award.
The Excellence in Community Service Award recognizes hospitals and health systems that have distinguished themselves through their contributions to their community. Memorial Hermann is known for its Nurse Health Line, a free telephone triage service for anyone living in Texas, regardless of health insurance status. People do not have to be Memorial Hermann patients to use the service.
“We are incredibly proud to offer this service to the community and are honored by this recognition,” said Carol Paret, senior vice president and community health manager at Memorial Hermann. “It doesn’t matter what language you speak, your insurance status, your zip code, or where or who you typically receive care from, anyone can call our 24/7 medical helpline. on 7, and access to free immediate help. This is a truly unique program and we hope this award will encourage more people to use this service.
According to an emergency department utilization study published in June 2013 by the University of Texas School of Public Health, more than 46% of all patients treated and discharged from emergency rooms in Houston were treated for primary care illnesses or injuries that could have been addressed in a doctor’s office or clinic. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, emergency rooms in Southeast Texas were often full and facilities struggled to meet patient needs in a timely manner.
Based on the findings of the UT School of Public Health study and based on the consistent trend seen in Houston hospitals, Memorial Hermann created its free 24/7 medical assistance line in 2014. The medical hotline was designed with the goal of improving community access to care and ensuring more efficient use of emergency rooms in Harris and surrounding counties.
Those with a health problem can call the Nurse Health Line for help in Spanish or English. Other interpreters are also available. The Nurse Health Line is staffed by trained nurses 24/7 to assist people living in Texas with their health issues and help them choose the right type of care.
Additionally, a team of community health workers associated with the Nurse Health Line helps callers who do not yet have an established primary care center locate one, helping people find the resources they need to manage their health, now and in the future.
By receiving more than 169,710 calls during Memorial Hermann’s 2021 fiscal year (July 2020-June 2021), the Nurse Health Line has helped ensure that ambulances and emergency rooms are available in times of crisis, and that non-critical health care is provided in an appropriate setting.
Cost avoidance for Houston-area emergency rooms was over $4.7 million in fiscal year 2021, using the assumption of $500 per emergency room visit. While 51% of callers said they would have gone to the emergency room had they not called the Nurse Health Line, only 25% of all callers were ultimately referred to the emergency room due to their condition.
Additionally, 98% of Nurse Health Line users rated the service as good or excellent, sharing that it provides helpful information, advice and education to callers. Not only does the Nurse Health Line give callers peace of mind regarding their medical concerns, it is also a convenient option for people seeking appropriate advice related to their health and general well-being. To access the Nurse Health Line, call (713) 338-7979 or toll free at (855) 577-7979.
At Memorial Hermann, our mission is to create healthier communities, now and for generations to come. Our 6,500 affiliated physicians and more than 29,000 employees practice evidence-based medicine with an emphasis on quality, safety and exceptional service for all patients, consumers and Medicare members. Our efforts continue to result in national awards and recognition, including for our nationally recognized Accountable Care Organization. With a focus on improving access to care, Memorial Hermann offers a virtual clinic for digital access and has over 265 conveniently located care delivery sites throughout the Greater Houston Area, including our flagship hospital in the world-renowned Texas Medical Center, which serves as the teaching hospital for McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston. We’ve proudly served this community for 115 years and contribute more than $400 million annually through school health centers and other community benefit programs. Because at Memorial Hermann, the health of our community is always at the center of what we do. To learn more about the Memorial Hermann Health System, visit www.memorialhermann.org.
Founded in 1930, the Texas Hospital Association is the governing organization and primary advocate for the state’s hospitals and health care systems. Based in Austin, THA builds the capacity of its members to improve the accessibility, quality, and cost-effectiveness of health care for all Texans. One of the nation’s largest hospital associations, THA represents more than 650 nonfederal general and specialty hospitals and health care systems, which employ some 400,000 medical professionals statewide. Learn more about the THA at www.tha.org or follow the THA on Twitter at www.twitter.com/texashospitals.