|IRES Director Gary Rushman|
When someone calls Northampton County's Human Services for help, what happens? Gary Rushman, who heads the county's Information and Referral Emergency Services (IRES) Division answered that question at a Council meeting last night. His group of seven full-time and 11 part-time caseworkers connects county residents with services that include Mental Health, Early Intervention and Developmental Programs, Drug and Alcohol, Children and Youth, Area Agency on Aging and other community services. His group decides whether an emergency assessment is needed, which does happen when there are serious allegations of child abuse or neglect or when older adults find themselves in emergency situations.
The phone number is 610 559-3270. The 24 hour emergency services office phone number is 610 252-9060.
Northampton County's Emergency Services is a 24/7 crisis intervention unit licensed by the state to provide mental health crisis services,process involuntary commitments and to handle all situations that might fall "between the crack" of other agencies. they could include emergency shelter requests, short term case management or coordination of community resources.
This year, IRES is on track to field 10,546 regular calls and 11,580 emergencies.
The largest number of calls are the result of new laws requiring reports for possible child abuse or neglect. In 2015,there were 5,67 referrals concerning children. This year, there are 5,319 with 6 weeks left until the end of the year.
Since 2009, there have been an average of 4745 requests for involuntary commitment, under which a person can be hospitalized for 120 hours at a community hospital if a doctor determines that he is dangerous to himself or others.
According to Rushman, involuntary commitments are "way up this year." He believes this is the result of a large geriatric population with significant mental health issues.