Grant-funded program will provide medical care, counseling, prescriptions and life-skills classes
July 9, 2008 - 12:02AM
THE GAZETTEA new program led by local charities will provide medical care, mental health treatment and life-skills training for inmates being released from prison, an effort that organizers hope will keep them from returning to a life of crime.
The ex-offender program is being funded by a $375,000, three-year Catholic Health Initiatives grant and appears to be the first of its kind in Colorado. Organizers plan to use the pilot program to help other communities interested in starting something similar, said Zelna Joseph, president and chief executive officer of SET Family Medical Clinics, the charity health care provider leading the program.
The concept hinges on the belief that a healthy exoffender with easy access to community resources is more likely to get and keep a job.
SET is partnering with two charity health care providers, Open Bible and Mission Medical Clinic, and the Harbor House Collaborative, a charity for the homeless and substance abusers. Together, the groups will provide basic medical care, mental health prescriptions, counseling and life-skills classes for people re-entering society after prison.
The groups will spend the next several months working out program details. The plan is to begin seeing patients by Oct. 1.
Under the plan, SET will handle basic medical care, while Open Bible will provide mental health treatment and prescriptions for conditions such as bipolar disorder or depression. Mission Medical plans to take patients with both physical and mental conditions, and Harbor House will provide life-skills training and counseling, Joseph said. SET also hopes to be a clearinghouse for other community services such as housing or work programs, Joseph said.