The phones are busy again at the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Information Service at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, more than two weeks after the partial government shutdown closed the call center.
The center reopened Thursday at 2 p.m. PT, said Nancy Zbaren, director of the center. For the first time this month, the more than 500 queries a day typically received will reach one of its 86 federally-funded employees. The center’s staff members have been on unpaid leave since the beginning of the shutdown.
“The CIS is absolutely thrilled that we reopened our service,” said Zbaren. “The Contact Center was again filled with information specialists eager to serve the many cancer patients and families who had been unable to reach us during the government shutdown. We are relieved that we are able to be back at work, doing what we were trained to do.”
During the partial government shutdown, only “essential” services were kept open while more than 800,000 workers were furloughed and many government agencies, services and federally funded programs were closed, including CIS.
CIS provides a free, bilingual cancer information service and respond to more than 10,000 phone calls, emails and live-help chat sessions a month from cancer patients and their families -- many of whom are in crisis -- as well as from health professionals and the public.