after hours telephone access policy

Effectivity Date: July 20, 2016


This policy is to ensure Agape Community Health Center, Inc (AGAPE) patients can access providers and care team members to address urgent and emergent needs after normal business hours. The ability of patients to have access to clinical advice when the health center is closed reduces patient use of the emergency room, promotes continuity of care, and fosters patient-centeredness.


The Medical Director has overall accountability and responsibility for maintaining assurances patients can seek and receive clinical advice when the health center is closed. The Medical Director delegates implementation and monitoring of this policy.


Extended Hours

Each health center location offers some extended hours during the week, and/or weekends. Extended hours may be early am, evenings or weekends.

After-Hours Access- Telephone

    1. At all times when the health center is closed phone lines are transferred to a contracted answering service vendor. The Chief Medical Officer provides the professional after-hours vendor the call schedules and current contact information for all AGAPE providers.

    2. When life-threatening emergency situations are identified patients are instructed to call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. The answering service and/or the provider on call make reasonable attempts to find out which hospital the patient is being transported to so a call may be placed to the facility, when appropriate, and notification of the emergency situation and disposition is made to their personal clinician the following day.

    3. Non-life-threatening situations: Calls received by the answering service that are determined appropriate for a provider call back using triage criteria and decision-support tools are immediately forwarded to the provider on call. Calls placed to the provider include patient demographic (name, date of birth, telephone number), personal clinician, and clinical symptom information that is necessary to locate the patient’s electronic health record for review.

    4. Providers are expected to contact patients within twenty (20) minutes of receiving the call and provide clinical advice as needed. Clinical advice provided is documented in the clinical record at the time of the call.

    5. The answering service records the time each call is received, the time the call is closed, and the disposition of the call (e.g., instructed to go to the ER or time the provider was contacted, etc). Each morning, a list of all after-hours calls is faxed to the health center by the answering service provider for follow-up by health center staff, when appropriate. Assigned team leads or nurses will conduct follow- up calls within 1 business day and document in the clinical record accordingly. The documentation will include: the reason for the call, the outcome of the call and clinical advice provided, when given.