Terros Health and Maricopa County Adult Probation Department have received a national award for a first-in-the-nation program designed to improve probationers’ access to integrated health services and reduce recidivism.  

The National Association of Counties recognized the innovative justice clinics, which include co-located health services and probation offices in four locations in the Valley, including a medical clinic inside of a probation office in west Phoenix. 

The program targets adults on probation, a historically underserved population that has experienced inequities in health coverage and care while experiencing significant health care needs. 

“The justice-involved have historically been underserved when it comes to health care,” said Michael Cimino, chief for Maricopa County Adult Probation. “We are changing that dynamic by removing barriers to health care through co-locating with Terros Health. And we are taking a more holistic approach and changing the culture, not only with our staff, but for individuals on probation. They are beginning to see that we care about their health and well-being, not just their probation status.”

There are approximately 3,200 individuals reporting to the Department’s Black Canyon Adult Probation Center. Within the initial year of service, 1,856 probationers received integrated care at the co-located facilities. 

Terros Health has been serving the probation population for many years, but this program makes health care more accessible to probationers, according to Peggy Chase, Terros Health’s president and CEO and one of Az Business magazine’s Most influential Women of 2018. (Photo by Bruce Andersen, AZ Big Media)

The centers are staffed by a Terros Health nurse practitioner and a registered nurse case manager who are specially trained in working with the probation population, along with two counselors, a peer community health worker and a project manager. 

Before receiving services, individuals undergo a comprehensive physical and mental health examination that includes BMI, heart function, diabetes, anxiety and depression screenings. Results from the screenings, along with an evaluation of the individual’s social determinants of health, are used to inform a customized treatment plan.

Terros Health has a long history of serving the probation population, but this program makes health care more accessible to probationers, according to Peggy Chase, the organization’s president and CEO.  

“We want probationers to feel welcome and know that their health and well-being are valued,” she said. “This program offers coordination of care under one roof, and the opportunity to meet probationers’ physical and mental health needs at one time, giving them a new path to succeed.” 

The justice clinics are funded by a five-year grant from the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System’s Targeted Investments Program. AHCCCS established the program in 2017 to incentivize eligible providers that meet certain benchmarks for integrating and coordinating physical and behavioral health care for Medicaid beneficiaries.  

“Integrating physical and behavioral health in this way was our vision for the justice clinics,” said Jami Snyder, director of AHCCCS. “Ultimately, we want the justice clinics to become a model of care that works in Arizona and that could also be adopted in other parts of the nation,” she said.