Health Assessment and Treatment (HAT) Team
The Health Assessment and Treatment (HAT) team is a coordinated effort between DCJ and the Multnomah County Health Department aimed at improving access to healthcare by connecting adults involved in the criminal justice system with community based support services and providers. Each position plays an integral role in targeting formerly incarcerated individuals with a chronic disease or mental health issues and assisting them with successfully transitioning back into the community.
The team consists of:
- Community Health Nurse
- Community Health Worker
- Corrections Counselors
- Parole/Probation Officers
- Dual Diagnosis Evaluators
The nurse, health worker, corrections counselor, and parole/probation officer (PPO) establish a care plan with the client. This care plan includes enrolling with a primary care provider (PCP), finding a pharmacist and getting prescriptions filled, educating the client about chronic disease management, assisting in obtaining vital records, and connecting to safety nets like SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). Additionally, the team engages in advocacy for other needed supports, such as housing and transportation, to increase client engagement, stabilization, and successful transition into the community. The care plan is intended to set the client up for long-term success by teaching them how to navigate the system and advocate for themselves, while creating a shared understanding between the healthcare and community corrections communities.
DCJ's Development of the HAT Team
The HAT team was developed in response to the growing numbers of Oregonians facing complex barriers to health insurance enrollment and medical care, despite new eligibility for health insurance provided by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Low levels of health literacy, the tendency to utilize emergency room services instead of a primary care physician, and delays in coverage due to confusion upon release from custody results in a lack of adequate healthcare for the more than 200,000 Oregonians that spend time in a correctional facility each year. Many of these individuals suffer from untreated chronic illness, disease, and mental health or substance abuse disorders.
In 2014, with a grant from Health Share of Oregon, DCJ partnered with the Health Department and Oregon Health Authority to address these comprehensive needs. Going forward, the HAT Team will be funded from DCJ and Health Department general funds. DCJ funds the corrections counselor, PPOs, and dual diagnosis evaluators, with the Health Department funding the community health nurse and the community health worker.
Since its inception, the HAT team has successfully enrolled several hundred adults in the Oregon Health Plan, completed hundreds of individual drug and alcohol evaluations, and connected people with primary care physicians and other providers. Having access to a primary care provider results in the reduction of emergency service utilization because clients are getting the healthcare and medications they need before an issue spirals out of control. The coordinated interventions aimed at ensuring timely access to health insurance and health care services upon release from custody have a positive impact on this population’s health, and positively correlates with reduced recidivism.