October 2 Health Reform and Re-Entry Forum

New Horizons in Care and Communities

Newswise — Health People: Community Preventive Health Institute will hold a groundbreaking forum on Friday, October 2 to highlight using New York’s unprecedented $8 billion federally-supported health reform initiative to build better health, jobs and supportive communities for the justice- involved and re-entry populations. The forum “Beyond Health Reform…Beyond Re-Entry” is funded by the Elton John AIDS Foundation and takes place from 9 am to 12:30 pm at the BronxWorks Betances Community Center, 547 East 146th Street, Bronx, NY.

“New York’s federal health reform, which is known as DSRIP (for delivery system reform incentive program) presents possibilities to improve re-entry in a way that benefits health, returning prisoners and communities,” said Chris Norwood, Executive Director of Health People. “This is crucial. The level of ill health among justice-involved populations is astounding.”

“Changes in federal and local health policy, like DSRIP, have created opportunities for justice-involved individuals to receive healthcare in previously impossible numbers and situations. Often, proper treatment of underlying physical or mental disease gets to the original cause of incarceration in the first place,” observes key-note speaker, Steven Rosenberg, President of Community Oriented Correctional Health Services. ”We must ensure that this moment is not missed.”

One important theme of the forum is moving beyond re-entry to the concept of “Decarceration”---which means “not just taking the prisoner out of prison but dealing with the impact of prison on individuals. Death-rates in the year after leaving prison are very high, especially from overdose, suicide and heart attack and that is something basic that is not being addressed,” points out Ernie Drucker, Research Professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and author of A Plague of Prisons: The Epidemiology of Mass Incarceration in America. Mr. Drucker will define the concept of “Decarceration,” while Anthony Feliciano, Executive Director of the Commission on the Public’s Health System, will detail how DSRIP can enable community groups to build support systems for the health of justice-involved men and women that haven’t previously existed.

Other presentations include Alison Jordan, Senior Director of Transition and Continuity Services for Correctional Health Servics, NYC HHC, who will explore how a large hospital system like the city’s Health and Hospitals Corporation is improving care access and coordination for re-entering patients; Aaron D. Fox, MD Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Medical Center on best practices for successful drug treatment for re-entering patients; and Edward Figueroa on the comprehensive Re-Entry approach of the Osborne Association.

Gary Kelly, Health People peer mentor will present findings from a Health People assessment of Bronx parolees which show that 59% don’t have Medicaid cards when they leave prison; that the majority need substance abuse or mental health treatment ---or both---and that 38% of released prisoners sent to the Bronx by the state did not live in the borough before being imprisoned.

A special panel on “Back to the Future” will examine important community supports for re-entry, including RAPP (Release Aging People in Prison), the Family Re-entry Pilot Program of the New York City Housing Authority and the growing number of peer health educator and other community-oriented health jobs that re-entering men and women can successfully learn through training programs even without having a college or high school degree.

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