211 Contra Costa
211 is a national, toll-free, three-digit phone number that can help people in need gain access to appropriate and affordable local services. It can be especially useful for people who have trouble accessing health services due to cultural or linguistic barriers. Our five-year (2008-2012), $500,000 grant helped the Contra Costa Crisis Center launch and provide 211 in Contra Costa.
It is making a difference. Of the 34,047 calls the Crisis Center fielded from January 2010 through December 2010, 3,788 (11%), were health-related. The Center also creates and posts a bilingual resource guide (English and Spanish) to its 211 database that includes information about low-cost medical services in Contra Costa.
The Health Access Issue
People who need health services - especially those who face cultural and linguistic barriers - often struggle to understand where they need to go and what they need to do to obtain those services. Simply looking through the phone book does not help people understand which services are best suited to their particular needs or how to go about accessing the services. 211 Contra Costa addresses this concern and many others.
The Health Improvement Strategy
When people call 211 in Contra Costa County, trained operators - with access to the most comprehensive database of providers in the county and with the ability to access native speakers for translation into 150 languages - deliver tailored and trustworthy information about food, housing, employment, health care, and other critical services. Studies have shown 211 can save substantial community dollars by taking on calls inappropriate for 911, by ensuring people get the help they need, and by facilitating community planning.