St. Leonard’s Ministries empowers formerly incarcerated men and women to lead whole and productive lives. With the support of holistic services including emergency and permanent supportive housing, cognitive behavioral therapy, physical healthcare, substance use treatment, education, employment training, and transitional jobs, program participants work to improve critical areas of their lives and achieve successful reentry. St. Leonard’s believes that everyone deserves a second chance.
For reentering citizens, physical and behavioral healthcare has been inadequately addressed while incarcerated leading to chronic conditions upon reentry. Power dynamics within prisons and jails result in inmate distrust of the health system, with many individuals opting not to receive the care they need. Also, high out-of-pocket expenses and long waits for health care visits in prisons and jails serve as deterrents for men and women seeking health care serves while incarcerated. Reentering citizens also face substance use challenges, depression, psychotic disorders and anxiety.
Washington Square Health Foundation has funded a program for St. Leonard’s to provide integrated physical and behavioral health services to improve positive health outcomes in participants. St. Leonard’s collaborates with Rush University’s College of Nursing through its Office of Faculty Practice to coordinate a nurse-managed primary health care and wellness clinic that is on-site at St. Leonard’s. The clinic is available to all participants and operates 4-days a week. Staffed by Nurse Practitioners and Registered Nurses, the clinic provides treatment for chronic and episodic health problems, referrals, health education, and health system advocacy. St. Leonard’s also partners with Adler Community Health Services to provide behavioral health assessments, individual counseling, and group counseling to participants. Adler clinicians and interns utilize Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in their practice to help participants with topics including anger management and coping skills. For participants with substance use challenges, Healthcare Alternative Systems and Above & Beyond Family Recovery Center provide Outpatient/Intensive Outpatient services.
By integrating services and focusing on care coordination between community partners, each participant is individually supported to address their unique needs. The security of receiving integrated health services on-site where participants reside improves participant access and openness to care ultimately increasing a person’s health outcomes and improving their quality of life.
Since opening the on-site clinic in 2018, Rush University College of Nursing has determined 70% of St. Leonard’s participants have two or more chronic health conditions, a number significantly higher than the national average, which is a result of not receiving adequate health care services prior to, and during, incarceration. Before the addition of health services and health education, the norm among participants was to respond to health needs solely in crisis situations and go to the emergency room for even minor medical services. With the addition of the St. Leonard’s on-site clinic providing health systems advocacy and providing an education of the complexity of the healthcare system, participants have shown growth in their health knowledge and are more proactive about addressing health concerns before they become crises. The shift in mindset to focus on prevention, through health education, chronic condition management, and understanding the intersection of health across all aspects of life has helped improve participant’s use of health services.