Netcare Access Becomes a 988 Service Provider

As the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline expands local behavioral health provider has the infrastructure and expertise to answer calls.

Netcare Access has been answering crisis phone calls since 1996 when its 24/7 Emergency Response Service (ERS) was established. The program is staffed by licensed clinicians ready to answer urgent questions and connect the caller to local resources. In some instances, if the caller is in an active crisis, the clinician will dispatch a ride to pick up the individual and bring them to Netcare for services.

The ERS program has expanded in the last 5 years.  An online chat feature had been added on the Netcare Access website (www.netcareaccess.org) and partnering with the Community Shelter Board to answer the Homeless Hotline 24-hour crisis line, (614-274-7000), for individuals and families in need of housing and shelter options in Columbus and Franklin County.

In 2021 Netcare answered, managed, de-escalated, and linked the following:

  • 42,771 Emergency Response Service Crisis Hotline incoming calls
  • 69,652 Homeless Hotline incoming calls
  • 747 COVID Cares ADAMH of Franklin County incoming calls
  • 771 online crisis chats via Netcare website or ADAMH Franklin County website
  • 74 Community Crisis Response trauma response team requests
  • 61,702 outgoing calls to family members, community agencies, and first responders

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national-based suicide prevention network founded by the Substance Abuses and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). In 2020 the Federal Communications Commission ordered telecommunication carriers to assist in implementing the new toll-free, three-digit 9-8-8 number, which was designed to be easier to remember and use than the current 1-800-373-TALK hotline. All phone service providers will be required to direct all 988 calls to the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by July 16, 2022.

Netcare Access began answering 988 calls on February 10. All calls are answered by licensed social workers and counselors trained in the Lifeline model. Currently, Netcare has 33 clinicians on staff to field inquiries from the crisis phone line, online chat, Homeless Hotline, and 988. All are answered 24 –hours a day, 7 days a week.

Marianne Robbins has been an Emergency Response Service clinician for more than 20 years. She is excited to be taking on the new 988 service. “What’s interesting about the 988 program is we use tools that they (the caller) may already have without the need to involve other first responders,” said Robbins. “We allow them to come up with their own ideas of getting themselves to safety. We are just the guide, utilizing the tools to keep them safe,” said Robbins.

 “Netcare has always been a high volume crisis call center, with our 614-276-2273 line, with compassion, expertise at the forefront, but now to join this network across the country and the state is a recognition of the skill and expertise of our staff,” said Director of Community & Residential Services, Carrie Wirick.
Netcare is currently the primary 988 coverage for Belmont, Harrison, and Monroe Counties, and provides backup coverage for Franklin County. Netcare is in discussions with 17 other counties to provide primary and backup coverage as the program expands.
Based on preliminary data, Netcare expects to answer 2,000 to 4,000 calls in the first year.