Your Health 6-14-13 Female former inmates' health - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Your Health: Healthcare for former female prison inmates

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They've served their time and paid their debt to society. Many are thankful for another chance at living beyond bars. But for most of them just taking care of  themselves is tough task.

Two organizations aim to get previously-incarcerated women to make their health a priority.
    
We made a visit to this residential facility for previously incarcerated women who face a new beginning.
Brandy and Tamara just returned from work. Brandy says, "You want me to sign us in?"  

They are two of eight women who live at what's called, a service center for the non-profit organization known as A.I.M.  That stands for Aid To Inmate Mothers.

This is a place of transition for women after release from Alabama's three prisons for women which are located in Wetumpka, Montgomery and Birmingham.

Karen Carr is showing us around. She's used to be the full time re-entry coordinator program manager. Now, she's part time support for the women and the organization.

Carr says, "It's difficult cause when women get out their mind is in survival mode.  It's like if I'm not sick I'm not thinking about those other things so we're trying to empowering about that health piece."

AIM partners with Alabama's Department of Public Health, Office of Women's Health to provide health education, resources and tools to help women meet their health needs as they transition back into the community.

Hardy says, "Although, when they come out there are many priorities that are top on their list... housing, getting a job, their children, but we didn't want them to put their health too far down on that priority list."

These pictures show us how AIM and the office of women's health provide health information to the women even before their release.

Hardy says, "We actually have some material we share with the community at large to let them know about our partnership."

They call it the WHI-FI program. Women Health Information for the Incarcerated Initiative. Carr played a big role in implementing the program in 2008.

Hardy says, "We actually try to go in once a month with a different health topic."

Heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and cancer are just a few of the topics which hit home for some of the women here.

Brandy says, "Definitely as a female, especially a freshly released female health is top priority because you don't necessarily receive grade A healthcare while you're on the inside."

Tamara says, "On my own I would have never been able to find the resources they have been able to find for me."

Brandy says, "Immediately upon my arrival here there were questions asked did I need to get any kind of health care it was provided that there would be transportation."

One thing brandy has concerns about is cancer.
 
But, like this mother in her 30s, previously incarcerated women, especially those with a chronic illness, have a lot on their plate...  trying to get life's responsibilities and priorities in order can weigh heavily on your mind affecting your health.

Carr says, "It's a lot of emotional.. ups and downs.

Carr understands and has a heart  for these women...she left prison behind nine years ago. That's when she decided to commit to helping other incarcerated women and those who are released. Equipping them and preparing them to choose a healthy lifestyle.
 
AIM and  the OWH's partnership offers the women sources at public health clinic across the state.  

Carr says, "If you don't feel good check up make sure  everything is in working order before you go out and really try to establish yourself in the community."

Carr also says something that's healthy for the community and previously incarcerated women is acceptance.

AIM and Wi-fi has been reaching more than 100 women a month since 2008.

How can the community help?

People can volunteer time  to AIM (Aid To Inmate Mothers) or donate items anyone would need to live, or  give monetary donations.

You can donate online and learn more about AIM by visiting www.inmatemoms.org

 

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