Story by: Henry Winkelhake on November 24, 2020
The rapid spread of the coronavirus has made it critical that accurate health information be distributed as quickly as possible to Kentucky residents.
The Kentucky Poison Control Center of Norton Children’s Hospital stepped up to establish the commonwealth’s COVID-19 hotline in early March. The center is led by Ashley Webb, Pharm.D., DABAT, who oversees a 14-person team that saw typical call volume double overnight.
They continue to work around the clock to answer the public’s questions about COVID-19.
Ashley is no stranger to acting quickly and effectively to prevent crises. She leads statewide call lines for questions about possible poisonings, HIV/AIDS and opioid addiction.
“This group of nurses and pharmacists brings a wide variety of expertise and perspective, empowering our team to provide accurate information and effective recommendations to as many people as possible,” she said.
For this dedicated group working long nights and weeks, “that isn’t my job” isn’t in their vocabulary. Rather, the call center team has made it their mission to provide caring support for every question, to every caller, every day.
“They are the most compassionate people I know,” Ashley said. “They’ve taken calls where they’ve had to calm terrified parents, take control of the situation, and provide reassurance and recommendations. We couldn’t accomplish all that we do without their empathy and expertise.”
Kentucky COVID-19 Hotline
The Kentucky Poison Control Center relies on donations to fulfill its mission of being a resource for trusted information, 24/7.
For many callers, this team was the first to tell them about COVID-19 symptoms, the first to tell them about the importance of social distancing, the first to explain serology testing. When the need arose for a state hotline to field questions about multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), they were the first to raise their hands and step up to operate the line.
“We’ve been the first line of defense in many cases, providing the information that lays the foundation for preventing the spread and knowing when to seek medical attention,” Ashley said.
The Kentucky COVID-19 Hotline has received over 185,000 calls since March.