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The Fortune Society receives grant to improve health services for people released from Rikers

The Fortune Society in Long Island City receives a grant to help people released from Rikers Island get the care they need to avoid a substance abuse relapse.
Courtesy of The Fortune Society
By Bill Parry

The Fortune Society, a Long Island City-based non-profit that has helped formerly incarcerated citizens reintegrate into the community since 1967, has launched a new program to prevent people released from Rikers Island from relapsing into substance abuse.

Fortune’s Connections to Care Program has received a nearly $500,000 grant from the OneCity Health Innovation Fund to implement its project, which connects these individuals with primary health care and holistic support services in the community. The program is focused on chronically ill, Medicaid-eligible adults with opioid use disorders.

While incarcerated, participants anticipating discharge will receive a physical, behavioral and social health assessment. Upon discharge, they will be offered transportation and then be directly connected to NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue Hospital Transitions Clinic, NYC Health + Hospitals/Gotham Health sites, and other health care providers to receive essential health care, including medication-assisted treatment for those with opioid use disorder.

“Most of the people on Rikers are medically and socially vulnerable,” Fortune Society President and CEO JoAnne Page said. “Too many have undiagnosed and untreated mental illness, substance use disorders, and HIV/AIDS. They have an eight-fold higher risk of death from drug-related causes during the first two weeks following release. Fortune’s Connections to Care program will provide these underserved New Yorkers with critically needed care — a safety net that will save lives.”

OneCity Health, the NYC Health + Hospitals’ performing Provider System, selected eight community partners to receive funding from its $5 million Innovation Fund to implement programs that will reduce avoidable hospitalizations, improve community health outcomes, and address social determinants of health, like food literacy. The fund is open to all OneCity Health partners, which includes more than 160 community-based organizations, hospitals, physician practices, pharmacies, behavioral health practitioners and others. OneCity Health encouraged partners to collaborate and submit joint applications, ultimately receiving 41 applications from 55 partners.

“Congratulations to our partners for submitting creative ideas that cover a range of topics, from opioid dependency to improving connections to care. Their innovations will help improve the health of our patient,” OneCity Health CEO Israel Rocha said. “These innovative solutions help to bridge a gap to a value-based payment environment, and the collaborations between our community partners demonstrate a holistic approach to creating an integrated delivery system. We look forward to helping to foster these programs over the next year and seeing their results.”

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

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