This month, Felton’s San Francisco Suicide Prevention (SFSP) experienced a 35% increase in high-risk calls as a result of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We encourage anyone in need of support to please reach out to the numerous hotlines that are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at sfsuicide.org, by calling (415) 781-0500 or by texting MYLIFE to 741741. SFSP remains fiercely committed to providing support for those in need during this crisis.
In partnership with Cisco Systems, SFSP has been upgraded with a cloud-based calling system, allowing the organization to be a 100% remote call center. When Governor Newsom and the Department of Public Health required all California residents to shelter in place, SFSP lost a majority of its volunteers, leaving only full-time staff to cover the phone lines 24/7. The crisis center was not equipped with remote system capabilities, which meant all operations had to be run in-person from the office, while incorporating physical distancing guidelines. The dire situation prompted a current volunteer and Cisco employee to bring the issue up with her company management. Cisco responded enthusiastically and outlined a plan to upgrade the agency’s equipment. Cisco Systems implemented an upgrade in a mere four days, equipping volunteers with 20 phones and the Webex Calling platform, so some volunteers and staff could stay mobilized and continue taking calls safely.
The systems are on a 90-day trial. Felton is very grateful to Cisco and Webex and is hopeful that additional resources of phones and computers will make it possible to extend support to more volunteers. To sustain critical services, SFSP must expand its remote reach. Now 20 people are equipped to answer the phones remotely, while there are normally 100 volunteers in rotation.
Webex Calling and SFSP: How it Works
- Webex Calling is a complete enterprise-grade cloud calling and team collaboration solution, with centralized administration, security, and reliability you can trust.
How it Works:
- Confronted with the challenge of allowing its volunteers to answer calls from homes, a Cisco employee and SFSP volunteer realized Cisco had a solution that could help.
- The collaboration team was able, in just 4 days, to go from an introductory call on the specific needs to having activated 80 volunteers on the Webex Calling platform, with phone numbers procured and configured, and 20 devices for staff.
- Cisco was also able to set up routing to distribute calls to the volunteers working from home, who are then able to answer using the Webex Calling app.
- In partnership with Masergy, Cisco also brought in the Webex Contact Center team to serve more advanced requirements for staff with Cisco’s cloud-based contact center solution.
#GivingTuesdayNOW and Share a Joke
As we reported last month, SFSP had to cancel its annual Laughs for Life fundraising gala, due to COVID-19, so there is currently an online outreach for donations before and on Giving Tuesday NOW on May 5, 2020, and an invitation to share a family-friendly joke on the SFSP Facebook page.
SFSP in the Media this month
SFSP’s Director of Programs was interviewed by the San Francisco Chronicle and KPIX (CBS 5) to discuss the rise in high-risk calls related to COVID-19 this month.
San Francisco Chronicle Article
Written by MICHAEL CABANATUAN on APRIL 15, 2020
Bay Area suicide hotlines see high volume from anxious callers during coronavirus crisis
KPIX (CBS 5)
By JACKIE WARD on APRIL 15, 2020 at 6:25 pm
San Francisco Suicide Prevention Seeing Record Surge In Calls During Coronavirus Pandemic
About Felton Institute: Founded in 1889, Felton Institute responds to human needs by providing cutting edge, evidence-based mental health and social services that transform lives. Felton Institute is a tax-exempt organization registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit under EIN 94-1156530.
Offering more than 50 acclaimed and honored programs that address homelessness, mental health, prenatal, adolescent, adult and senior needs, Felton Institute provides services in San Francisco, Alameda, San Mateo, Marin, and Monterey counties.
Felton is named for its social services pioneer and first executive director Dr. Katharine “Kitty” Felton who was called the ”conscience of San Francisco” and was committed to ensuring that children and families in crisis have access to social services and resources in order to help them build upon their inherent strengths and develop self-sufficiency. www.felton.org
About San Francisco Suicide Prevention: Founded in 1962, San Francisco Suicide Prevention is the oldest community-based telephone crisis center in the United States. The agency provides emotional support and crisis intervention, answering more than 300 calls a day; has trained over 6,000 youth in the warning signs of suicide and risk-reduction tactics; and helped 200 community members process the loss of loved ones, ensuring that all members of the community are empowered with tools to help each other through moments of crisis. San Francisco Suicide Prevention has several 24-hour crisis hotlines. www.sfsuicide.org