HOUSTON (March 22, 2022)

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 contributions to their community. Memorial Hermann is being recognized for its Nurse Health Line, a free telephone triage service for anyone living in Texas, regardless of health insurance status. Individuals do not need to be patients of Memorial Hermann 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 chief community health officer at Memorial Hermann. “No matter what language you speak, your insurance status, zip code, or from where or whom you typically receive care, anyone can call our Nurse Health Line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and access immediate help free of charge. It is a truly unique program and we hope this award will encourage more people to utilize this service.”

According to an emergency department use study published in June 2013 by the University Of Texas School Of Public Health, more than 46 percent of all patients treated and released from emergency rooms in Houston were treated for primary care-related illnesses or injuries that could have been addressed in a physician’s office or clinic. Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, emergency rooms in southeast Texas were often at capacity and facilities struggled to meet the needs of patients in a timely manner.

Based on the findings of the UT School of Public Health study and informed by the consistent trend seen across hospitals in Houston, Memorial Hermann established its free, 24/7 Nurse Health Line in 2014. The Nurse Health Line was designed with the purpose of improving community access to care and ensuring more efficient use of the emergency rooms in Harris and the surrounding counties.

Those who are experiencing a health concern can dial the Nurse Health Line for assistance in Spanish or English. Other interpreters are also available. The Nurse Health Line is staffed by trained nurses 24/7 to help people living in Texas with their healthcare questions and assist them in choosing the right kind of care.

In addition, a team of community health workers associated with the Nurse Health Line assist callers who do not already have an established primary medical home locate one, further helping people find the resources they need to manage their health, now and in the future.

Receiving more than 169,710 calls during Memorial Hermann’s 2021 fiscal year (July 2020-June 2021), the Nurse Health Line has helped to ensure that ambulances and emergency rooms are available for crises, and non-critical health care is delivered in an appropriate setting.

The cost avoidance for Houston area emergency rooms was more than $4.7 million in FY2021, using the assumption of $500 per ER visit. While 51 percent of callers indicated that they would have gone to the ER had they not called the Nurse Health Line, only 25 percent of all callers were ultimately sent to the ER based on their condition.

In addition, 98 percent of Nurse Health Line users reported the service as good or excellent, sharing that it provides helpful information, advice and education to callers. The Nurse Health Line not only gives callers peace of mind regarding their medical concerns, but it is also a convenient option for people seeking appropriate guidance related to their health and overall wellbeing. To access the Nurse Health Line, (713) 338-7979 or toll-free (855) 577-7979