Health Care Access Maryland (HCAM) launched a new program, Returning Citizens Community Connections (RCCC), in July 2021 with grant support from the Maryland Community Health Resources Commission (CHRC). Working within Baltimore City’s pre-trial institutions, the primary goals of RCCC are to ensure returning citizens are supported in their transition to the community, and to reduce recidivism and unnecessary emergency room usage. HCAM hired a team of Community Health Workers (CHWs) to provide care coordination to returning citizens who need support managing chronic health conditions.
HCAM’s Community Health Workers (CHWs) receive referrals primarily from the Addiction Medicine Unit, Re-entry Discharge Planners, and Social Workers. Whenever possible, CHWs meet soon-to-be-released returning citizens within the correctional institution to build rapport, provide an overview of the program and its benefits, and begin to engage the client in services.
CHWs support returning citizens following release for 60 days by completing a social determinants of health screening to help identify the client’s unique needs – and then work with them to find services that address them. Some of the main areas of focus that CHWs address include the following: behavioral health coordination, setting up medical appointments, establishing a Primary Care Provider, employment and job readiness programs, housing, obtaining State ID’s and other documents, and ensuring released citizens have any and all needed discharge medications.
In the first six months of the program, HCAM’s CHWs have enrolled 115 clients. Read below to hear about one of HCAM’s CHWs, Michael, and his experience working with a recent client.
After being released from Baltimore Central Booking & Intake (BCBIC), Shawn* began working with HCAM Community Health Worker, Michael. Shawn had shared with Michael his worries that his recent arrest violated his parole. Michael was able to get the date and location of his upcoming hearing and showed up to support him. During the hearing, Shawn’s lawyer was able to share with the judge his participation in the Returning Citizens Community Connections program and Shawn’s work to access the healthcare and resources he would need as he transitioned into the community.
Shawn’s charges were ultimately dismissed, and Michael continued supporting him to address his health needs and employment goals. Michael provided Shawn with a bus card a few days after his hearing, which he was able to use to get to a job interview.
Shawn was offered the position. The bus card provided him not only transportation for the interview, but also allowed him to get to and from work until he received his first paycheck. Shawn stated that without the help of the RCCC program, there was no way he would have stayed on the right path. He now works two jobs, has a primary care provider, and has remained consistent with his substance use treatment.
Carolyn McIlree, Medical Director of the Opioid Treatment Program at Baltimore Central Booking & Intake (BCBIC), shared the following: “We are very grateful to work with the HealthCare Access Maryland team as they address unmet health needs of returning citizens at Baltimore Central Booking & Intake. Their sincerity, engagement, and dedication to the patients we serve is truly evident.”
If you or someone you know would like to be connected to the Returning Citizens Community Connection program, please send an email to: RCCC@hcamaryland.org.
*Name changed to protect client privacy