Public Health Call Center employees connect public to programs and peace of mind 

Pictured: From left to right Connect 2 Care employees Laura Arnold, Natasha Battles and Jennifer Loyd.

Creating a healthy community is no easy task. It takes dedication, a commitment to serve, and in the case of employees at King County Public Health’s Connect 2 Care, an almost encyclopedic knowledge of current public health services, programs and nationwide concerns.

Connect 2 Care is  a call center staffed by 9 people that will respond to about 1,200 calls a week, spending on average four and a half minutes on each call. This time includes speaking to community members, typing up notes and other follow-up work. The busiest times of the year for the Center tend to be in the fall when children are back in school and in the winter time, when people aren’t feeling well.

“The calls we receive could be about anything health-related,” said Ian Jorgensen, Public Health Administrative Support Supervisor. “They could be about something in the news, like Zika or measles.”

“We’re a safety net organization, helping people to know where they need to go.”

Ian, who has been with King County for 15 years and has worked in the Call Center for six, explains that generally the Center schedules appointments and shares information primarily about the Family Planning Program, the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program, the Maternity Support Services (MSS) Program, and Public Health Dental Clinics.

But the Center responds to every caller looking for answers, regardless of how unrelated the topic might be. It’s the “no wrong door” customer service policy in action, Ian said.

“We get calls from all kinds of people about services from Public Health. They may call a clinic and through the phone tree get routed to the Call Center,” he added. “So we have to become familiar with everything done by Public Health.”

Ian shares how this can be challenging to keep up with as the requirements and policies for each program change, but Call Center employees take pride in the work they do and the impact it has.

“Our goal is to make the community healthy, and that can be a hard thing to do emotionally and physically, but we’re here for those people who don’t know where else to go,” he said.

“The populations we serve aren’t usually being served elsewhere, which also means the work we do is promoting equity from a health standpoint.”

The Center receives many calls from vulnerable populations, which can range from overwhelmed new mothers to homeless individuals and other groups in crisis or at-risk. With a vision of providing equal access to health care regardless of income, ethnicity, language and immigration status, the program exists to support everyone to find the resources needed to live a healthy, stable life.

“People come to us in many different ways, and we need to help those who aren’t well,” Ian said. “We are not just here providing a service, but helping people find what they need to live.”

If Connect 2 Care is not able to meet the client’s need, the call is often transferred to the Community Health Access Program (CHAP) where clients can apply for insurance or be connected with additional resources.  For more information about the Community Health Access Program and how it connects King County residents to health insurance, health care services and other resources visit www.kingcounty.gov/chap. To contact CHAP dial 1-800-756-5437.

For information about the Family Planning Program, the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program, the Maternity Support Services (MSS) Program, and Public Health Dental Clinics contact Connect 2 Care at 206-535-2497.