How can I help you?

Most days, answering the phone lines at Emory HealthConnection is routine. Registered nurses field calls for appointments, screenings, even wrong numbers. Then there's the call that saves a life.

One day Helen Smith answered such a call. The man on the end of the line was looking for a primary care doctor. With a few questions, Smith found out that he had a family history of diabetes and recently had quit taking medication for hypertension. He was having trouble urinating, was dizzy, and had trouble speaking. Smith saw two possibilities—the caller could be experiencing something related to diabetes, or he could be having a stroke. Smith told him to go straight to the emergency room.Usually that would end her involvement, but in this case, she got to hear the end of the story. The man arrived at the hospital in grave condition with a life-threatening blood sugar count of 1,400. He called back later to thank the operator who had saved his life.

The 14 registered nurses who answer 16 phone lines at HealthConnection are a one-stop shop for patients and referring physicians. They put patients and community doctors in touch with Emory physicians, sign up participants for special health events at Emory, serve as a resource for outpatient clinical trials, and compile data for Emory Healthcare Marketing on what callers want. Last year, they fielded more than 130,000 calls, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., each weekday. Having nurses answer the phones puts Emory Healthcare ahead of other call centers in Atlanta, says HealthConnection director Lori McLelland, a cardiovascular nurse. Nurses can better understand the condition of callers and provide accurate information to get people to the Emory experts who can best help, she says.

When Emory offers new health programs, such as a cardiac CT scan introduced last year, HealthConnection nurses answer questions about the programs and book appointments. After weeks of talking about the scans, Smith decided to have one herself. "I walked everyday at lunch, but I had begun to feel a pressure in my chest during my walk," she says.


Helen SmithAnswering the call

These days, Helen Smith is back on the phones at HealthConnection with a renewed empathy for patients. You can call her with questions about anything related to health. Want to sign up for a free screening for prostate cancer, register for a prenatal class, or ask about your own cardiac CT scan?
Try one of the numbers below.

For consumers
Emory HealthConnection,
404-778-7777 and

Emory University Hospital HealthConnection

Wesley Woods Senior Resource Line

For Physicians
Emory Consultation Line,


It was $150 and time well spent. Smith’s scan showed an aneurysm in an artery, one that had gone undetected during a recent annual check-up. She had several options: wait and see, undergo surgery to place a stent, or have a coil procedure to block the aneurysm to prevent blood from reaching it. She decided on the coil, which would involve an overnight hospital stay and allow her to return to work in a week. But on September 15, her daughter’s birthday, Smith was undergoing the coil procedure when the aneurysm ruptured. A team of Emory general, abdominal, and vascular surgeons sprang into action.

"I think the cardiac CT scan is one of the best programs that Emory has offered," says Smith, whose recovery took three months. "I’ve had several callers saying a problem was discovered with their own scan or one of a friend or relative. My personal experience was proof to me of its value."

Rhonda Mullen

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