“211, How May I Help Your Swine Flu Concerns?”

County call center gets hundreds of calls

The San Diego 211 system has taken hundreds of calls from concerned residents across the county since activating its call center in response to the swine flu outbreak.

"Once I hang up a disaster call I get another one immediately after," says operator Leticia Martinez. 

Martinez is one of about twenty operators taking calls from people wondering about everything from the symptoms to where potential swine flu patients should be sent.

"We have individuals who are calling specifically for the symptoms. They want to know what to look out for, if in fact they run into infected individuals, whether they are neighbors or other kids at school," Martinez says.

The center took more than three hundred calls related to the swine flu on Tuesday, and had already logged almost 150 calls by lunchtime Wednesday.

"I think the biggest thing is people talking to a live voice just to really get comfort, you know they want validation that it's okay to be afraid or be unsure should I go to the doctor, those types of things," says San Diego 211 Chief Operating Officer Mona Freels.

2-1-1 gets constant updates from the County Health Department.  Operators are also receiving calls from health care professionals who want the latest government information on testing. Other doctors need to know where they can refer patients because they are booked.

Martinez says she also tries to control the rumors that are circulating about the swine flu, and stresses the precautions people can take to protect their families.

Martinez is a mother of four and says she is following her own advice closely, "I bought loads and loads of hand sanitizer.”

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