More Nova Scotians are taking advantage of Healthlink 811 for health-related advice, leading to better care sooner. Calls to the nurse line increased by about 30 per cent during mid-December to early January. “Healthlink 811 should be the first step for anyone unsure about a health concern, instead of going to the local emergency department,” said Maureen MacDonald, Minister of Health and Wellness. “Receiving self care over the phone by registered nurses is one of the best ways to receive care sooner.” The nurses also provide information by fax, mail or e-mail and can refer callers to community-based or provincial health services and if necessary, link a caller to 911. During the holidays, Nova Scotians made, on average, 278 calls daily seeking advice about children’s fevers, colds, vomiting and diarrhea, abdominal pain, chest pains, backaches and headaches. Many seeking advice were mothers with young children. By mid-January, the number of calls increased to 350 per day. The nurse line is available 24 hours a day seven days a week, in the caller’s language of choice through an interpretation service. A Healthlink 811 educational and awareness campaign began in December and will continue this year as part of government’s Better Care Sooner health plan. Over the next three years the plan will improve the quality of emergency care, reduce overcrowding and wait times for patients in emergency rooms, and provide better health care for families. For more information or to view a copy of the report visit www.gov.ns.ca/health/bettercaresooner .