FALLS CHURCH, Va. — Late on a cold night in January, a worried mother picked up her phone and made a call. Her 5-year-old child had been vomiting on and off for three hours, she told the registered nurse.

The nurse was reassuring, and thorough. After asking the mother several questions, the nurse determined the child didn’t need immediate medical attention. The mother felt relieved, and followed the nurse’s directions to keep the child comfortable and hydrated while also looking for worsening symptoms or lack of improvement.

This is the MHS Nurse Advice Line in action. Approximately 44 mothers and fathers of infants reach out each day, with 40 percent of all inquiries pediatric-related. Typical concerns relate to colds, rashes, fever, and stomach ailments. The free, 24/7 advice line helps ensure the health and well-being of beneficiaries while reducing unnecessary emergency room and urgent care visits that can strain resources and cause longer wait times for all patients.

The MHS Nurse Advice Line expanded to include additional health care support services. The advice line is available by phone, web chat or video chat to beneficiaries who are anywhere in the world with a military treatment facility – including Guam, Puerto Rico, Cuba, South Korea, and Japan. Previously, availability was limited to phone calls in fewer locations. Since expanded services began, web chat has been a popular option.

Along with getting answers to questions and receiving health care advice, beneficiaries can use the service to: find a doctor in a particular area; schedule appointments within 24 hours at military hospitals and clinics; get information about self-care; and, learn about symptoms to watch. If deemed appropriate, and their command approves, beneficiaries may also receive sick slips for school or work. For those who are enrolled to a military hospital or clinic, the MHS Nurse Advice Line will also notify the patient’s medical home team.

All location-specific phone numbers, web chat and video chat features of the new MHS Nurse Advice Line can be accessed at MHSNurseAdviceLine.com. Beneficiaries in the United States who prefer calling can dial 1-800-TRICARE (874-2273), and choose Option 1.