Thursday, September 18, 2014

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Connecting People to Health Care and Human Services in the Mohawk Valley

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Connecting People to Health Care and Human Services in the Mohawk Valley
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UTICA, N.Y. -- Across most of the state and the nation, you can dial 211 and have your call answered by an operator, trained to help find the best health care and human services in your area.

"If you are looking for services say for elderly parents, or for your pre-school child or for health reasons, 211 would be the number you would call," said Robin Robinson with the United Way of the Valley and Greater Utica Area.

Starting next year, that service is expected to be available for residents in Oneida, Herkimer and Madison Counties.

People will no longer have to call dozens of agencies in search of answers and information, just dial 211 and an operator will refer you directly to the agency you need.

"If you're an individual who hasn't had to per se find a service for themselves or a loved one, a family member. Then you don't realize how much time is taken to find the right service for you and your family," Robinson said.

There are currently six call centers or hubs in New York, all funded by the state. This year, United Way leaders advocated that more money in the budget be allocated towards 211 centers and they got their wish.

They've since applied for that additional funding, which will help fund 211 services for the Mid-York Region.

There is not enough money to create a new hub, so calls for this region will go through the Finger Lakes Call Center in Rochester.

"They currently serve 13 counties,and we really feel they do a phenomenal job. They understand the different nuances of all the different counties," said Robinson.

All operators are also trained counselors. This allows them to dig into the deeper issues and find out what a caller really needs.

United Way officials will find out by September how much funding they'll receive to operate this new 211 region. They're expecting to have it up and running by the beginning of 2015.

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