From the Harford County Health Department:
(Bel Air)—The Maryland Community Health Resources Commission (CHRC) will be conducting a site visit on Monday, January 25, from 12 noon to 1:30 pm in Bel Air to discuss Harford County’s innovative HOPE project (Healthy Options Provide Empowerment), a program funded by the Commission which helps inmates with co-occurring mental illness and substance abuse needs transition successfully into the community. The visit will include Ms. Susan Kelly, Harford County Health Officer; Harford County Sheriff Jesse Bane; Harford Judge Mimi Cooper; Ms. Sharon Lipford, Executive Director Harford County Office on Mental Health, and representatives from the Maryland Department of Health & Mental Hygiene (DHMH). Harford County’s Health Department has developed an interdisciplinary “public health-public safety” partnership with local law enforcement to help link recidivating individuals into critical health care and support services, ultimately improving overall health outcomes and promoting public safety.
“Harford County is developing an integrated model of care and providing a blueprint for policy innovation in Maryland,” commented Mark Luckner, Executive Director, Maryland Community Health Resources Commission. “Harford County is showing the way, and they are to be commended.”
Created by the Maryland General Assembly in 2005, the core mission of the Commission is to award grants to help expand access to health care for low-income Marylanders and help stimulate innovative projects such as the HOPE program in Harford County that generate the potential for systematic reform in Maryland. In addition to the HOPE program, Harford County has received two additional grants from the Commission, a $435,000 dental grant and a $221,000 school-based health center grant. Over the last four years, the Commission has awarded 63 projects, totaling approximately $20.25 million, and has received more than 250 grant applications, totaling $99 million.
“We appreciate the Commission’s commitment here in Harford County,” commented Susan Kelly, Harford County Health Officer. “If it weren’t for the grant with the Commission, we would not have been in a position to start this program.” In FY 2008, Harford County received a $484,237 multi-year grant from the Commission, and the goal of the HOPE project is to identify 600 dually diagnosed inmates at the local detention center and link them directly into an integrated system of care, including: substance abuse counseling, psychiatric services, medical home for primary care, and support services (case management, housing, entitlements) that starts during incarceration and continues post-release. Harford County reports identifying 271 inmates to date, generating 1,295 clinical appointments in the program. With more than a year of experience, the HOPE program is relying on evidence-based practices, and Harford County reports that it has initiated conversations with adjacent Baltimore and Cecil Counties about potential program expansion.
For more information on the HOPE program, contact Tracy Schafer, Director of Harford County Health Department Addictions Services at 410-877-2365.