Nurse Helpline Available Around The Clock

Members of the VISN 6 Network Telephone Care Program (L-R) Debbie Turner, Suszanne Bowles, Carla Raynes and Rhonda Adkins, assist callers with after-hours health related issues.

Veterans in North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia can rest a little easier knowing they have a resource available during weekends, holidays and evenings.

The VISN 6 Network Telephone Care Program is a service available to all Veterans served by the VISN. Initiated in 2008, the VISN 6 NTCP is located on the grounds of the Beckley VAMC.

While each medical center operates a nurse help line during regular business hours, calling the same numbers during non-business hours will connect callers with the NTCP helpline in Beckley where Carla Raynes, and her staff of registered nurses assist Veterans and their loved ones with both medical and emotional support, and advice about access to care.

The program is fully accredited with all the nurses having experience in critical care, telephone assessment and crisis intervention.

In Fiscal Year 2010, Ms. Raynes and her staff handled 68,189 calls, averaging of 5,682 calls per month. The average time to answer a call was 22 seconds.

The staff takes advantage of many resources to help Veterans and their families, such as computerized patient records, physicians, pharmacists, medical administrators, triage protocols, computer and hard copy references. They help with a wide variety of problems and concerns that can include, but are not limited to:

  • symptom analysis
  • first aid procedures
  • stress/anxiety
  • medication questions
  • lab test results
  • patient education concerning specific disease entities, such as diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol
  • preparation for certain procedures
  • check appointments
  • caregiver support

It is important to note that the NTCP should not be used in lieu of 911 for emergencies.

Those individuals calling the NTCP helpline will be asked for identification including name and last four numbers of the sponsor’s social security number, which VA Medical Center is typically used for treatment, and the reason for calling.
One of the registered nurs-es will review the record, ask a series of questions, and then advise the caller to either call 911, go to the nearest emer-gency room, call for a clinic appointment, or they may provide home care instructions to see the person through until their next scheduled appointment.

Phone calls are documented in Veterans’ medical records and all clinical calls are forwarded to each Veteran’s provider.

With nurse triage, we direct members to the proper facility at the right time, saving everyone time and money.,” said Carla Raynes. “Using nurse helpline to triage issues reduces claims and costs like unnecessary ER visits, relieves stress, and increases productivity. In fact, over 30 percent of the calls to our nurse triage line are resolved with at-home treatment.”

It’s easy to see why easy access to a nurse’s advice is a win-win for everyone.

For more information regarding the VISN 6 NTCP, please contact Carla Raynes via email at carla.raynes@; by phone at 304-255- 2121, ext. 4276.

Helpline Numbers

  • Asheville
  • Hampton
  • Beckley
  • Richmond
  • Durham
  • Salem
  • Fayetteville
  • Salisbury



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