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Many calls to Missouri abuse hotline aren't answered

Only about 39 percent of calls were answered during a four-month span.

May 22, 2019 - 10:45 am

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Callers to a Missouri hotline for abuse of elderly or disabled residents frequently can’t get through to anyone.

Records obtained by The Columbia Missourian and KBIA radio found only about half of the 92,000 calls to the hotline last year were answered. From January through April, only about 39 percent of calls were answered.

Data obtained through a records request shows the past decade has seen a 35 percent increase in reports of abuse or exploitation. The Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services added one hotline worker during that time.

Jessica Sax, director of the Division of Senior & Disability Services, said the department is first addressing inefficiencies in the hotline before asking for more workers. She said the division also is studying how other state run their hotlines.