One Nurse’s Commitment to Members.
Most people spend their Friday nights relaxing after a long work week. Judy Destefano has spent the last 800+ Friday nights working at Optima Health for the Nurse Advice Line. That equates to approximately 17 years. Judy has spent every Friday night, excluding vacations and illness, triaging clients who have Optima Health insurance or one of our participating doctors. She’s part of a dedicated team of nurses who work every evening assisting members that have questions about their health and helping them determine the best course of action for their care.
“Friday nights are one of the most challenging shifts. In an eight hour shift, on average, we get 60-100 calls and we have a team of four to five RNs and one LPN,” comments Destefano. “We have some nurses who prefer not to work that night because clients tend to be more ill at the end of the week and have less patience.” A majority of the calls are from mothers with sick children or members who didn’t get their medication called in from their doctor. “It takes a lot of patience and excellent listening skills,” she continues.
Destefano is one of 25 staff that manages the Nurse Advice Line for the health plan. Shifts begin at 5 p.m. and go through 8 a.m. Monday-Friday and are managed 24 hours holidays. The staff assists members with health concerns for themselves and their families, ranging from a simple cold to helping them determine whether they should go to an Urgent Care Center, Emergency Room, or initiate 911.
“Eighty-five percent of the phone calls are pediatrics that range from newly discharged to 18-year-old,” states Destefano. These tend to be the longest triages as well. We also take quite a few calls regarding injuries of all types and all degrees including motor vehicle accidents (bicycle and skateboard). Our goal is to reduce the member’s stress and provide them with the appropriate advice for their medical condition.
Destefano graduated from nursing school at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital 32 years ago. Since then she’s held an array of positions in healthcare. Her first love is children so she gets great satisfaction helping the young mothers that call the advice line. She tries to go that extra mile to help them feel better about themselves and their situation.
“I enjoy working with Optima Health. I have a really great boss and a team of nurses/coworkers that are exceptional at what they do,” continues Destefano.
In addition to the 5,000-6,000 calls they answer each year, Optima Health’s Nurse Advice Line takes the same amount for contracted physician office calls from other insurance plans. If you have Optima Health insurance or a participating after hour program physician, don’t forget to use the Nurse Advice Line as your first course of action in solving your healthcare need.