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Upstate's COVID-19 hotline changes name to reflect changes in public health

Ellen Abbott
WRVO News (file photo)
Upstate's COVID-19 hotline has become a Public Health Hotline

Upstate Medical University’s COVID-19 hotline is getting a new name, to reflect changes in public health.

Since the hotline went live in March 2020, 120,000 people have called to get answers about the virus. Those calls about COVID have been dwindling, reflecting the state of the pandemic. But other questions are starting to pop up.

"When we started to get monkeypox questions on the COVID hotline, we realized we need to take this model and expand it to monkeypox,” said hotline co-director Michelle Caliva.

So the COVID Hotline has now been renamed the Public Health Hotline. A team of registered nurses and non-licensed staff are available to answer questions and hopefully lessen anxiety about public health issues like monkeypox. But co-director Joey Angelina says it won’t be limited to that.

“You know, monkey pox is just the next thing mentioned on the news, the next infection,” said Angelina. “This could also be beneficial for the community for whatever comes up next, for influenza every fall, for any increase in volume for COVID again, once everyone goes inside for fall and winter."

Caliva also said with schools opening up, the expectation is more people will be looking for answers. She expects the Public health hotline to be answering calls for the long haul.

"Upstate stood up and said ‘let’s make this work for COVID,’ and that model has been successful, and I just don’t see it going away," she said.

The public health hotline is available from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday by calling 315-464-3979.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.