MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — The Equal Justice Initiative, which advocates on behalf of inmates across Alabama, is now expanding its mission to meet the health care needs of those formerly incarcerated.
Starting Wednesday, EJI Health’s mobile clinic will serve those at a parole center in Opelika. The clinic will screen for things like anemia, high cholesterol, diabetes, HIVE and hepatitis C, as well as full consultations.
Operations manager Mary Ellen Luck said the mobile clinic will start off visiting parole centers, with the goal to eventually reach every corner of the state.
“A big benefit is just being able to bring care to where people are rather than having people need to come to us,” Luck said.
The mobile unit is just one part of the overall mission to help those coming out of incarceration get back on their feet.
“Alabama is not on the high-ranking states in terms of life expectancy, diabetes, cancer and almost any sort of health outcome,” EJI Health physician Margaret Hayden said. “There’s work to be done.”
Hayden is one of two doctors at the clinic, whose patients are mostly uninsured. She said that while they can’t do everything, such as cancer screenings or more thorough health services, they can provide a baseline of care for some of the most treatable issues, like diabetes and high blood pressure.
“Those are pretty easy to treat, affordable medications that with just a little bit of access you can make a big difference, but insurance is a major limitation,” she said.
The clinic will cover more than just health care assistance. Social worker laquarria nevins helps patients with reentry to society, including everything from finding a job, to transportation, to meals.
“We’re giving someone a chance to be able to have somewhere to live, have something to eat, so in the public safety realm, our program definitely promotes that,” social worker Laquarria Nevins said.
Since the pilot program first began in February, the clinic has seen a few dozen patients. Now, there are plans to start taking in more.