Health officials open Ask My Nurse Hotline after Deer Park chemical fire

DEER PARK, Texas – At 8 a.m. Thursday, three hours and five minutes after a shelter-in-place order was issued for Deer Park due to elevated benzene levels from the ITC tank farm fire, Harris Health System opened its Ask My Nurse Hotline for concerned citizens who had questions about their health.

“A lot of patients (are) calling in at one time. We've had to ramp up our nursing staff,” said Jennifer LaHue, of Harris Health System.

Those clinically trained nurses, who have at least eight years of experience, have fielded more than 500 phone calls from people who live in Deer Park and the surrounding communities, listening and triaging appropriately. A large number of people who’ve been calling in have the same complaints.

“Respiratory symptoms, cough, difficulty breathing, irritation of the throat, lightheadedness, dizziness and vision problems,” LaHue said.

Those nurses are telling people if they need emergency assistance to go to the hospital and if they can wait, then they should see their primary care doctor or go to an urgent care center.

The hotline is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and will be active for as long as it’s needed.

The number to call is 713-634-1110.

Nurses will refer you to the nearest emergency room or urgent care center if necessary. Harris Health said its hospitals, both Ben Taub and Lyndon B. Johnson, have not seen an uptick in the number of respiratory cases.

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