Volunteer Barbara Kokonas is fielding a lot of calls. Like this one from a person who just got back from Mexico, where there’ve been many cases.
“2-1-1 Sacramento, this is Barbara, can I help you? Right, ok, well Sacramento Public Health has put out the list of all of the symptoms, fever, headache, fatigue, you have a cough, muscle aches, and then nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are some of the more severe symptoms.”
Kokones says a lot of people have questions about H1N1 or swine flu symptoms. She says her job is to give basic information and communicate key points from local health authorities.
“It’s mostly reassuring people that it’s nothing different than what the flu has always been, stay home, lots of fluids, take care of yourself, call your doctor if there’s a spike in the symptoms.”
Bob Diercks is the supervisor of Sacramento 2-1-1. It’s a free information hub about county social services like housing, food programs and health care. He says the center was ready last week to respond to the outbreak.
“We saw definitive increase in calls, we staffed up for it, we put a separate cue in, so the first thing, when they call 2-1-1 they can ask for flu information.”
Diercks says calls peaked on Wednesday – about 350. He says other days ranged from one to two hundred calls. And since then, he says they’ve died down a bit. The more public health alerts and media reports, the more informed Diercks says the callers seem.
“Let’s say there is a little spike, maybe something comes up, they’re a much more informed public now, they may realize OK, I’m comfortable with that, or I’ve heard that.”
The Sacramento 2-1-1 Center is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is available in multiple languages.