JREC’s November Zoom community meeting on ‘Access to Reentry Services in Times of COVID’ was a great success. Presenting panelists talked about service delivery and improvements to meet needs. Great questions and comments came in from the audience. All were engaged. It was fun to see connections made and information and solutions shared. We even had a surprise visit from Thomas Boot, the cat. If you missed the event, read on!

Painting a Picture:

The first panelists, Christina Lee and Jim Musser, JAMHI Health & Wellness, set the discussion stage. Ms. Lee is a reentry case manager, and Mr. Musser is a peer support specialist. Each described change and adaptation to service delivery due to COVID-19 and challenges they see clients facing. One example of change reported by Ms. Lee is meeting with clients inside Lemon Creek Correctional Center (LCCC) is currently prohibited. She must delay a client’s first meeting until after release. The consequence of this issue is clients’ potential in experiencing cascading delays in securing other services and supports. Mr. Musser reported clients disconnecting from services due to pauses or interruptions as providers adjust to the COVID-19 environment – the possibility of returning to an addiction becoming pronounced.

Housing Resources:

Roy Anderson, St. Vincent de Paul, talked about housing services and how to access them during COVID-19. Mr. Anderson described many of St. Vincent de Paul’s low-income housing programs and their array of housing stock. Some challenges during COVID-19 are the closure of the Dan Austin resource center and the closure of senior housing to outside visitors – health safety becoming paramount. Mr. Anderson ended his presentation by providing his cell phone number and inviting anyone looking for housing in Juneau to give him a call. He will help any individual navigate the housing access gauntlet.  If you want Mr. Anderson’s cell number, email JREC at juneaureentry@gmail.com, and we’ll see that you get it.

Behavioral Health Resources:

GHS's list of services during COVID-19Panelist for behavioral healthcare services was Michele Federico, Gastineau Human Services (GHS), and Dennis Galey, JAMHI Health & Wellness. The good news for the reentry client looking for behavioral health services is that both GHS and JAMHI Health and Wellness are open for business. However, modifications in service delivery have occurred. For example, many assessments and groups are offered virtually. In-person or residential services may have space limitations due to social distancing requirements. Ms. Federico summarized GHS services and provided contact information using a handout (downloadable by clicking the image to the right.) Mr. Galey provided the audience with JAMHI Health & Wellness’s phone number (907) 463-3303.

Employment Resources:

Alaska Division of Vocational Rehabilitation's page one slide from their PowerPoint presentation at the November 4, 2020 JREC Community MeetingNext up were panelists discussing employment readiness and training services. Connie Williams spoke about services at the Alaska Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR). Karragh Arndt presented on job readiness training opportunities at The Learning Connection. According to Williams, DVR’s objective for every client is employment! She also announced a streamlined application process on their website to help clients connect to a counselor seamlessly. The Learning Connection said they have many training programs to help with employment. They include training for the trades, nursing assistant, EMT 1, and a host of general education and job skill-building classes. Arndt said The Learning Connection works with individuals by appointment during COVID-19.

General Primary Healthcare:

Last but not least was a presentation by Front Street Clinic’s Casey Ploof. She said that Front Street Clinic is a federally qualified health center providing physical and behavioral healthcare to all. As a federally qualified health center, services are provided regardless of the ability to pay. Ploof said in addition to providing general primary and behavioral health care on-site (walk-in welcomed!), dental care is available at the Juneau Dental Clinic by referral.

JREC’s Next Community Meeting:

JREC is planning its next community meeting for February 2021.  The Steering Team is thinking along the lines of healthy relationships as an appropriate topic for February.  Stay tuned for more information!