It's 10 p.m. You're seeing spots. Your tongue feels like you just licked a hedgehog wrapped in sandpaper. Your options: have a mild panic attack and stay awake all night for fear your tongue and/or eyes may fall out; relax, assume it will pass and risk the chance of waking in the morning sans tongue and/or ocular orbs; or go to the emergency room and wait in line for five hours only to be prescribed two aspirin and a good night's sleep, which you've now lost. What to do?
Easy. Exercise the state's newest option and call the 24-hour Nurse Advice New Mexico line (877-725-2552), launched a couple weeks ago. According to a press release from the Department of Health (DOH), the service is the first public-private health advice line in the nation. In an effort to relieve overcrowded emergency rooms (and your mind), the New Mexico DOH provided start-up funding of $500,000, supported by the State Legislature, Sen. Dede Feldman and Gov. Bill Richardson. Supporting organizations are UNM, Presbyterian Health Plan, Coordinated Systems of Care--Community Access Program, Lovelace Health Plan, Primary Care Association, Bernalillo County, and the New Mexico Hospital and Health Systems Association.
As is stands, 21 state nurses staff the line and will answer health care questions as well as direct callers to local community resources. Over the next three years, the service is supposed to be expanded to have 40 to 50 nurses staffing the line, with the option of having some nurses work from home.
So don't sweat. Call 877-725-2552 instead. And stop licking hedgehogs--gross.