New flu hotline seeing heavy usageby Elizabeth Dunbar, Minnesota Public Radio,
Lorna Benson, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — The Health Department says it will try to beef up the capacity of its newly opened flu hotline after long wait times or busy signals have been reported one day after they launched the line for people who think they might be sick.
The new Minnesota FluLine had received more than 2,100 calls as of 8 a.m. Thursday, less than 24 hours after the service began.
The Minnesota Department of Health is asking people to be patient with the service as officials expand the system's capacity.
State epidemiologist Dr. Ruth Lynfield said one reason it takes so long to get through is because nurses are carefully evaluating each patient.
"They go through a very, very detailed interview with the person and that has pros and cons," Lynfield said. "The pro side of it is we feel that the person is getting good care. The difficulty is it does take more time."
Craig Acomb, assistant health commissioner, said in a news release that officials didn't know beforehand how many calls they would get.
"We are monitoring use of the system very closely, and looking at a number of possible strategies for increasing our capacity," he said.
Acomb said the vast majority of calls to the FluLine were from people with flu symptoms who were seeking help.
The Minnesota FluLine number is 1-866-259-4655.
- All Things Considered, 10/22/2009, 4:46 p.m.
Elizabeth Dunbar is a general assignment reporter for MPR News.