211 Answers Calls to Licensed Long Term Care Facilities
Starting earlier in April, calls going to state-licensed aging and long-term care facilities regarding COVID-19 have been routed to 211 through the use of automated voice scripts based on the callers selection. Washington 211 is partnering with the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services to answer inquiries and route callers to over 700 licensed facilities in the state. 291 calls have been made to 211 since April 6. Some of the more common inquiries include visitation rules, COVID-19 testing status, and safety measures taken to protect the spread of the virus. 

$75,000 Grant to Handle Jump in Calls
United Way Worldwide awarded Washington 211 a $75,000 grant from its National COVID-19 Fund to help support the impacts of COVID-19 on the system’s call volumes. This funding has been distributed to the 211 Regional Contact Centers to support 211 call capacity issues. And is it needed! In the first quarter of this year, the state’s 211 network answered 86,219 calls — an increase of 144 percent over the same time last year. And this April, not yet over, is almost double the calls answered from April 2019.  

211 Assists in Ensuring Accurate Data Collection
An essential element to responding and managing any crisis is accurate and timely information and the Washington 211 network is finding ways to participate — both in collecting and presenting its day-to-day data through the 2-1-1 Counts as well as helping state agencies gather specialized information. This week, the Washington Department of Social and Health Services enlisted Washington 211 to help licensed care facilities locate their security information that they’ll need when reporting COVID positive status and PPE supply levels.

211 Call Center Staff Struggle to Keep Local Resource Information Updated
In order to stay up to date and provide timely information to callers, 211 staff working remotely have continued to keep in touch via Zoom with social service providers in counties they serve. This has been especially productive where they have strong partnership relationships. However, providers across regions have been stressed due to the virus outbreak with staff working less hours remotely and communication being more difficult. The COVID crisis has resulted in fast-changing resource availability plus lack of and closure of some services. Keeping the 211 resource database updated is critical. Call center managers have been most challenged in gaining updates from more rural counties where limited 211 funding over the years has not supported outreach staff. “My dream would be to have a 211 outreach coordinator in all 16 counties we serve in central and eastern Washington,” reports Stacy Kellogg, People For People Director of Social Services.

The community can help Washington 211 with resource information updates. If you are a service provider or community member and are aware of changes in services due to COVID-19, you can search for the services in the 211 database to determine if they exist and have updated information. You can also provide information on new or unlisted services. To report changes dial the number 2-1-1 to inform a 211 Specialist or you can complete an online form here! 2-1-1 is a great resource to help connect people to community resources but it is only helpful if it has accurate and updated information and you can help ensure that it does.

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