JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)
The Department of Health and Senior Services is rolling out a new adult abuse and neglect online reporting system.
Missourians can submit reports of adult abuse, neglect and exploitation online 24/7 as an alternative to calling the hotline.
"There's an aging population and a lot more awareness about the issue of elder abuse and adult abuse," said Director of the Division of Senior and Disability Services Jessica Bax. "As that increased, weren't able to handle all of the calls that were coming through."
Bax said the new online system should help free up the phone lines. Staff will monitor online reports during call center hours, 7 a.m. to midnight.
"It's really vital that we have the partnership of the public," she said. "If you see something you, say something."
ABC 17 News requested the number of answered and unanswered hotline calls over the past few years.
Staff answered 65.9% of calls in 2017. The percentage fell to 50.6% in 2018, according to state data.
Records show January through April 2019 had a call handle rate of 38.7%.
"We knew that was at a level that was unacceptable and needed to make some changes," Bax said.
The hotline can only have a maximum of four people on hold.
Bax said the call hold led to drop calls and people repeatedly calling back which spiked the number of unanswered calls.
The department has added a prompting system to get people who are seeking resources or information other than making a report to the right place and avoid tying up the phone lines, Bax said.
The department has also implemented script-based interviewing for hotline calls to help decrease call time.
November had a 77.4% rate of calls answered and 2019 to date overall has a 50.4% of calls answered, according to state records.