OREGON.SAM

Tracking court-mandated drug and alcohol treatment
IRMA to the rescue

For many years the Multnomah County, Oregon, Department of Community and Family Services faced an uphill battle as it struggled to administer and manage the treatment of clients referred by the courts for Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants. "We were constantly scrambling-and people were still falling through the cracks," said Paul Ducommun, central intake director." Our system was 95 percent manual. We used a series of tickler files, and when we went to locate prior records, it took anywhere from a half how to an how and a half to get the information we needed."

That job now takes only a minute, thanks to IRMA, the county's new automated Information and Referral Management Information system, based on Sybase System 10 and PowerBuilder software, which was installed in November 1994. "It's so much more efficient that we can track 700 clients a month, whereas before, with the same number of personnel, we were barely keeping up with 400 a month, " said Ducommun. He explained that the increased numbers are due to the fact that the department is now handling not only DUII cases but other court and probation officer-referred clients, as well as inmates, with alcohol and drug related problems.

"With IRMA, the process is not only faster but more effective, because we can report back more quickly on individuals who haven't shown up at our office, and we can make better referrals for treatment because we have better information, " said Ducommun. He noted that clients have a tendency to downplay their prior problems with drug and alcohol related offenses, and, under the old system, information on earlier offenses was often unavailable. "If we know right up front that a person has been arrested five times in the last eight years for DUII, that suggests a very different kind of treatment."