One number links seven of NJ’s largest health care centers

At one point or another, everyone has gotten sick of the elevator music that taunts listeners while placed on hold and has just hung up the phone. Enter health care agency North Hudson Community Action Corp (NHCAC).

As part of its latest plan to address patient redirecting and improving patient service, the regionalized health care agency officially unveiled the opening of its one-stop call center equipped with call-monitoring technology.

The call center, located on the first floor of St. Joseph’s High School on 55th Street and Park Avenue in West New York, celebrated its official ribbon cutting ceremony last Wednesday, Feb. 6.

President and CEO of NHCAC Chris Irizarry hopes patients can first turn to this call center to facilitate their needs.

The call center was funded by a $172,000 state grant from the Health Department, a grant New Jersey Primary Care Association President and CEO Katherine Grant-Davis helped secure.

“In 1994, they were the smallest health center,” said Davis, “and now they’re the largest. They’ve been very diligent in increasing access to community.”

Citing that the agency services 50,000 patients a year, Davis complimented NHCAC in expanding their services to the community.

“The demand for our services has increased dramatically in recent years, and this new call center will allow us to better serve more people more efficiently,” said Irizarry.

Patients can call the new telephone number Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at (201) 210-0200 to set up an appointment regarding women’s health, gynecology, prenatal care, family planning, internal medicine, pediatrics, and dental care. The call center is meant to answer questions about “comprehensive care,” including any insurance-related questions patients may have.

In the past, potential patients would be bounced around between departments, endure waiting for lack of appointments, and/or physically present themselves at a clinic in which the sought services may not have even been offered; but now, patients can make one phone call to access seven of NHCAC’s clinics and make an appointment. Additionally, patients can choose to set up an appointment at a different office that can speed up the diagnosis process.

“It definitely reduces frustration,” said Irizarry.

The call center is currently linked to six of NHCAC’s locations including Hoboken, North Bergen, Jersey City, Union City, Garfield (Bergen County), and Passaic (Passaic County). The last and largest of their centers, which is located in West New York, is expected to be linked within the next month.

One of a kind

The classroom of St. Joseph’s is where four bilingual appointment clerks and a call center supervisor man the phones.

In the center of the room is a 37-inch flat panel display equipped with the technology to monitor calls.

QueueMetrics, the software responsible for monitoring calls, logs information about the caller that expedites the process.

The software logs in the person’s phone number, how long he/she has been waiting on the phone, how many and which agents are available to take the call, and call duration.

This information refreshes every 18 seconds.

According to Mayra Sanchez, the call center’s supervisor, the average call duration time is two minutes. A call will “raise concern” if it lasts more than three minutes, said Sanchez; although, she did acknowledge that those clients making appointments for more than one person are more likely to stay on the phone longer.

Director of IT at NHCAC Alex Mendez explained that in order to provide better service, the data seen on the display can also be overseen by other officials in NHCAC’s offices across the street.

“Because the two [locations] are networked together, remote sessions can be monitored by myself, upper management, or [Chris] Irizarry himself,” said Mendez.

Up next

According to Irizarry, the largest NHCAC site in West New York is expected to be hooked up within the next month.

Irizarry also expects to study the data gathered by the QueueMetrics software. Citing an increase of 24,000 patient visits in a one-year time period, Irizarry wants to study the data to see what services people are seeking out and in what demographic.

Additionally, Irizarry said that within the next two months, he wants to implement a reverse 911 system. This system would call patients at all their logged telephone numbers warning them of possible health issues and extending services.

“For example, if it’s flu season,” said Irizarry, “we’d call every resident, and say, ‘We’re offering free flu shots – would you like to set up an appointment for one?’ ”

Nicolas Millan can be reached at


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