Intermountain creates guide to community services

2013-11-30T00:20:00Z 2013-11-30T06:37:52Z Intermountain creates guide to community servicesBarbara Christiansen - Daily Herald Daily Herald
November 30, 2013 12:20 am  • 

It can be frustrating to find help when you need it. It's like trying to look up a word in the dictionary to find out how to spell it, but you can't find it because you don't know how to spell it.

Imagine your neighbor hints to you that he might be considering suicide and you want to get help for him. You're not sure what agency to contact for information, and you may be daunted by automated phone messages that never take you to a real person to speak with.

Enter Intermountain Healthcare, which has created a community resource guide, available for free on the Internet. It can also be saved to a mobile device as an app.

"A lot of this resource guide came because the need was so great," said Kye Miner, community benefit manager of Intermountain Healthcare.

The resource guide has listings for contact information, maps, hours of operation, eligibility, fees and services for many community agencies.

Previously there had been similar guides, produced yearly, for a variety of needs in the community, particularly those of low-income individuals and families. Those guides were usually PDFs, which are not searchable by most search engines, not web friendly and not mobile optimized.

The new guide aims to overcome those issues and can be found at uccrg.org or utahcountycommunity resources.org. It is mobile-optimized so it looks and feels like an app, but runs on a device's web browser.

It can be also be saved as an app for easy access -- the reason it was formatted the way it was.

"An ever-growing number of people search for information using a smart phone, thus the need for a truly mobile resource," spokeswoman Janet Frank said. "The Utah County Community Resources site is mobile-optimized, making it easy to use from any device or operating system without the need for a pesky install or frequent updates. When the site is updated, the mobile web app is instantly updated as well."

That's another feature that is beneficial. In the past, when there was a change in personnel in a department, or a new phone extension, the entire page or section needed to be replaced. That could easily lend itself to updates not being done because they were so cumbersome and time consuming.

Creating the community resource guide also took its share of time, however.

"I had an intern from BYU who took this project on for 300 hours," Miner said. "It definitely was a very laborious thing."

Miner has had experience speaking with those who needed help and didn't know where to turn, which prompted the organization to create the guide. She said it had been hard.

"We did it for families in need," she said. "It breaks your heart. They don't know where to go or what to do. Sometimes they would try for six to eight weeks for them to get the help they needed."

Not only will the guide help those in need, it makes it easier and more accurate for someone who provides help for individuals or families to get the right resource.

"It provides a readily updated resource for social workers, ecclesiastical and community leaders," Frank said.

Not only will updates within a department be available, additional resources will continue to be added.

"We will be adding items like bereavement, child abuse prevention and treatment, low income dental help," Miner said.

Having it accessible through mobile phones has an advantage other than portability.

"Smartphones are so accessible," Miner said. "Low income people don't always have the Internet. I think it is going to bring it more into life. Almost everybody will be able to access current information."

She said she was optimistic about the resource guide.

"This is going to rock the county," she said. "It is a way for everybody to get on. There won't be a cumbersome binder you have to update."

barbara-christiansen
-- Barbara Christiansen covers news in American Fork government, schools, residents, business and more. You can connect with Barbara by emailing her at bchristiansen@heraldextra.com

Read more from Barbara Christiansen here.

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