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Mercy IC Service Helps Millionth Caller

IOWA CITY, IA (CBS2/FOX28) - In the last nine years, one million people in the Corridor have gotten professional medical advice from a registered nurse, over the phone, for free -- Mercy Hospital On Call in Iowa City celebrated its 1,000,000th caller on Wednesday. 

Registered nurse Sue Kuntz answered the phone in the Mercy On Call department later Wednesday afternoon, and it happened to be a patient she talked to on Tuesday. The patient had gone to the doctor for nausea, but still felt sick after receiving medication. 

"So, what did they tell you yesterday?" Kuntz asked the patient. 

She took down notes in the patient's record to create a mental sketch of how the patient felt, and whether or not he needed to see a doctor again. 

"We try to do what we can, because not everyone needs to see a doctor or come to the emergency room. And (what I like is) giving them just care, advice, even sometimes just reassurance," said On Call manager Teresa Claeys. 

That can go a long way, especially when visits to emergency rooms have increased dramatically since 1996, according to the Centers for Disease Control. On call service, such as Mercy's, can cut down on those visits, Claeys said, especially because one of their missions is to hook callers up with a primary care physician. 

"So, that way, in the future, when they are sick, they will have somebody they can go to and they won't need to go to the emergency room for just little simple things," Claeys said. 

That is meaningful to nurses like Kuntz, whose patient wasn't getting any better during his phone call. Kuntz made sure he would be able to get to the hospital during the day. 

"Do you have somebody who can drive you up?" she asked, before telling the patient to take care of himself. 

Lucky for him, Kuntz was just a call away. 

Mercy On Call can be reached by calling 319-358-2767. Callers do not have to be Mercy patients to receive help. 

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