For formerly incarcerated individuals, successful reentry into the community depends on many factors, including access to housing, vocational training, and medical care. Currently, the state of North Carolina does not have a formal system to link people to medical care upon release from incarceration. This is especially important for people suffering from chronic diseases, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney disease and mental illness. In fact, within the first 2 weeks of release from prison there is a 12 times higher risk of death for these individuals.
What is the Formerly Incarcerated Transition Program (FIT)?
The FIT Program is a partnership between UNC Family Medicine, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety (which administers the state prisons), Federally Qualified Health Centers, County Departments of Health and local reentry councils. For our pilot in Durham County our partners are Lincoln Community Health Center, The Durham County Department of Health and the Durham Criminal Justice Resource Center. A Community Health Worker (CHW) makes contact with prisoners with chronic disease prior to release, develops a rapport and helps put together a comprehensive reentry plan. The CHW works directly with the formerly incarcerated individual after release to execute the reentry plan and take them to medical appointments.
The FIT Program will conduct a pilot demonstration program in Durham County in January 2017. A CHW will work with prisoners who have chronic diseases in Durham County. He/She will coordinate with the Durham Reentry Council and Durham Criminal Justice Resource Center to develop a comprehensive reentry plan. Medical care will be provided at one of the Lincoln Community Health Center satellite clinics.
Similar programs have been successful in other parts of the U.S. and have decreased rates of hospitalization, emergency room use, and even recidivism. We have additional support from a national group that encourages the use of this model, the Transitions Clinic Network.
How is the FIT Program Funded?
Most formerly incarcerated people do not have health insurance upon release. The FIT program provides funding to cover the office visit and medication costs. Office visits at Community Health Centers are $20-$30 and medications cost between $4-$20 per month per medication.
Please consider making a donation. Formerly incarcerated people face multiple barriers to care and this program can really make a difference in their lives.
Thank you for your support!