WA211 and Our Supporters are Ensuring We All Come Out of COVID in Good Shape
May 24, 2021
“It was a tiny thing that I could do for this person who desperately needed some humanity,” Hannah said. “I just wanted to thank you for hiring me because I’m really proud of what we do; and I feel he’s thanking all of us. Some days are really good days .”Recently Hannah, a Specialist with Washington 211, assisted a Yakima man approaching his 90th birthday who wanted a vaccine. He had no family or support system, no vehicle, no computer, no mobile phone only a landline. Over the phone, Hannah walked him through his eligibility; located an appointment for him; printed and mailed him his eligibility verification and his appointment confirmation page.
No matter how strong your community safety net is, it does little good unless the people who are in need can find and qualify for the assistance. Our experience over the last 15 months is that Washington 211 can be an effective and trusted source of information and navigation for people who simply need a little help to get back on their feet. The reach of the WA211 network is making partnerships more attractive such as the one with Lyft and Uber to hook callers up with free and discounted rides to vaccine appointments for people with transportation challenges. Here is the Department of Health press release detailing the program.
Making Sure We All Come Out of COVID in Good Shape
A big thank you to legislators, legislative and Governor staff and supporters who helped ensure that a $3 million general fund appropriation for Washington 211 is a reality. The 50 percent increase in general fund support will help raise WA211’s base capability to handle the ever increasing number of calls coming into the Washington 211 system from residents who are in need of services to help them pull out of this long pandemic.
Even as we do come out of COVID there are many people who will continue to experience barriers to accessing services and this is where 211 Specialists are trained and available to provide help through a simple phone call.
Recently Hannah, a Specialist with Washington 211, assisted a Yakima man approaching his 90th birthday who wanted a vaccine. He had no family or support system, no vehicle, no computer, no mobile phone… only a landline. Over the phone, Hannah walked him through his eligibility; located an appointment for him; and printed and mailed him his eligibility verification and appointment confirmation page. Hannah later received the following thank you note in the mail:
“Thank you Hannah for getting me a COVID-19 Vaccination when no one else could not get me one.”
“It was a tiny thing that I could do for this person who desperately needed some humanity,” Hannah said. “I just wanted to thank you for hiring me because I’m really proud of what we do; and I feel he’s thanking all of us. Some days are really good days.”
Providing Essential Infrastructure to Our Recovering Economy
As people affected by the pandemic seek to return to work and to a sense of normalcy, the Washington 211 network is there to help people get what they need.
- COVID Vaccinations and Testing Washington 211 has ensured over 40,000 vaccine appointments for eligible Washingtonians in the past three months. Recently, Washington 211 has been arranging transportation assistance to vaccine appointments for callers who face a barrier in getting to injection sites, using the Ride United Transportation Access program. Overall, the Washington 211 network through the state COVID hotline has assisted almost 325,000 callers in the past 15 months. The hotline has been available seven days a week (including all holidays) since its inception and is able to provide interpretation services in over 200 languages as well as TTY. Calls have ranged in duration from a few moments to simply confirm the guidelines to be followed, to over an hour providing more detailed assistance and information.
- Rental and Utility Assistance WA211 helps connect Washingtonians to rental and utility assistance available through the CARES Act so they can secure their living situation. In just the first three weeks of screening for this program, WA211 has connected 1,834 households with assistance.
- Transportation WA211 connects Washingtonian’s to non-emergency medical transportation and public transportation options to get to job interviews, work sites and health care appointments. In Kennewick, for instance, a couple who both worked full time found themselves with tight finances when their grown son developed a serious heart condition. Getting the son to Spokane every other week was beyond their financial means after the mom had to stop working and stay to care for the son. WA211 hooked them up with fuel vouchers through the state’s non-emergency medical transportation program and also helped the family sign up for food assistance.
The Washington 211 network is presently working on strategies to increase system equity, quality and productivity using the added state investments. We will provide updates to this in our next e-news.