COVID-19 Questions Answered, One Call at a Time

April 13, 2020
Photo shows Raquel in front of her computer at the call center.
Dr. Raquel Reynolds at the Partners COVID-19 Nurse Triage Call Center.

Raquel Reynolds has been busy answering questions about the coronavirus, one phone call at a time.

Dr. Reynolds, an assistant professor of nursing, is working at the Partners COVID-19 Nurse Triage Call Center twice a week. The center has incoming calls from Partners HealthCare’s patients, ambulatory practice centers, employees, and clinicians seeking general advice. 

“One of my friends said I am 'air traffic control,' sending patients to the right path. I like that analogy,” she said. “I feel like I’m contributing and serving the public. It is a perfect blend of my adult health and public health knowledge and experience.”

Patients call with a variety of questions, she said. Some are worried that chest tightness or a light cough means they have COVID-19. For those calls, she provides comfort and teaching. In other cases, patients need to learn about how to manage symptoms at home, which symptoms to monitor, and when to seek help. That takes a lot of coaching. Still others need to be seen right away for testing, urgent care or emergency care, and coordinate services, and she works with those patients on what to do and what to expect.

In addition, she has fielded calls from physicians and nurse practitioners asking for help triaging patients or seeking advice on how to follow our protocols. In that situation, she talks through the case with the provider to determine the best course of action.

While Reynolds has been going into Partners’ Assembly Square headquarters to work the phone lines, recently she was asked to pilot taking calls from home as a way for she and the other phone personnel to practice social distancing guidelines.

“I am very grateful to be doing this work,” she said. “It literally is public health in action.”

Read more about the IHP's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic at our Business As Unusual page.