An ambitious initiative developed in a Massachusetts county jail that provides care for ex-inmates in neighborhood health centers is touted as a national model to improve the well-being of the hard-to-reach and often unhealthy population, the Boston Globe reports. For more than a decade, Hampden County Correctional Center in Ludlow has hoped its award-winning program that pairs an inmate with the same doctor in jail and in the community would catch on nationally. The plan’s complexities scared off most governments.
Now, helped by a $7.4 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the idea is beginning to take hold. Several states and cities, including a network of Boston health centers and the Suffolk County Jail, are exploring whether to start the program. Others considering the idea include Rhode Island, Vermont, and Jacksonville, Fl. “Even though it’s very complicated, it’s worth doing,” said Patricia Edraos of a Massachusetts league of health centers. “It makes so much sense to be able to care for a person’s needs in jail and then have that person know the health care provider in the community.”The issue arose recently when former surgeon general Richard Carmona said the Bush administration blocked a report from his office titled “Call to Action on Corrections in Community Health.” Carmona said the White House will not make the report public because it would commit the government to increase funding for inmates’ health care.