NIH grant tests strategies to limit spread of COVID-19 among formerly incarcerated people

The study will be led by Matthew Akiyama, MD, associate professor of medicine at Einstein and internist and infectious disease specialist at Montefiore. Dr. Akiyama will collaborate with The Fortune Society, a New York Citynonprofit serving incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals, to conduct a randomized trial to evaluate an on-site or “point-of-care” COVID-19 screening and education program.

Increased risks for formerly incarcerated people
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported more than 715,000 total cases in US correctional and detention facilities since March 31, 2020although many note that this is likely an undercount.

“Incarcerated people face significant health disparities and increased risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection,” said Dr. Akiyama, whose work focuses on the disease among marginalized members. of the society. “Upon release, many live in homeless shelters or in gathering places conducive to the transmission of the coronavirus. Given the likelihood that COVID-19 will remain endemic among high-risk populations, it is important to test and establish effective strategies to reduce the virus. spread in communities. »

Testing approaches to prevent the spread of COVID-19
The study will involve 250 people who have been released from jail or prison. All will receive training on the importance of testing for the virus. Half will be referred to offsite testing; the other half of the participants will be offered rapid PCR tests every three months at the offices of the Fortune Society in City of Long Island and Harlem. During the 30-minute wait for test results, people involved in justice and trained as community health workers will provide one-on-one counseling on the importance of social distancing, good hygiene and wearing mask. Travel to vaccination sites will be arranged and face masks will be provided, if required. Those who test positive will be directed to single room supportive housing offered by The Fortune Society to maintain social distancing.

All participants will complete questionnaires throughout the year. They will also receive smartphones to use for online surveys about their activities and how they are protecting themselves and others from the virus.

Dr. Akiyama is also partnering with the Einstein and Montefiore Department of Pathology to perform analyzes that will indicate the specific variant of COVID-19 in those who test positive. “As variants like Omicron emerge, we will also have a system in place to monitor which variants are circulating in the community,” Dr. Akiyama said. “I am delighted to collaborate with The Fortune Society as well as my colleagues in the Division of General Internal Medicine, including Drs. Aaron Fox and Chenshu Zhang, and the Department of Pathology including Drs. Amy Fox and Yitz Goldstein to implement this study.

The grant, “Leveraging Community Health Workers to Improve SARS-CoV-2 Testing and Mitigation Among Those Involved in Criminal Justice and Accessing Corrections-Focused Community Organization,” is funded by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, part of the NIH (1R01MD016744).

About the Montefiore Health System
Montefiore Health System is one of the New York one leading academic health systems and is a recognized leader in providing exceptional quality, personalized and accountable care to approximately three million people in communities across the Bronx, Westchester and the Hudson Valley. It comprises 10 hospitals, including Montefiore Children’s Hospital, Burke Rehabilitation Hospital, and over 200 outpatient ambulatory care sites. The advanced clinical and translational research of its faculty of medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, directly informs patient care and improves outcomes. From the Montefiore-Einstein Centers of Excellence in Oncology, Cardiology and Vascular Care, Pediatrics and Transplantation, to its preeminent School Health Program, Montefiore is a fully integrated health care delivery system providing coordinated and comprehensive care to patients and their families. For more information, visit follow us on Twitter and Instagram and LinkedIn, or check us out on Facebook and YouTube.

On Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Albert Einstein College of Medicine is one of the nation’s leading centers for research, medical education, and clinical investigation. In the 2020-21 academic year, Einstein is home to 732 medical students, 190 doctoral students. students, 120 students in the combined MD/Ph.D. program and approximately 250 postdoctoral researchers. The College of Medicine has over 1,900 full-time faculty members located on the main campus and at its clinical affiliates. In 2020, Einstein received more than $185 million in the National Institutes of Health awards. This includes funding for major Einstein research centers in cancer, aging, intellectual developmental disorders, diabetes, clinical and translational research, liver disease and AIDS. Other areas in which the College of Medicine focuses its efforts include research in brain development, neuroscience, heart disease, and initiatives to reduce and eliminate ethnic and racial health disparities. Its partnership with Montefiore, University Hospital and Einstein University Medical Center, advances clinical and translational research to accelerate the rate at which new discoveries become the treatments and therapies that benefit patients. For more information, visit, read our blog, follow us on Twitterlike us on facebook, and watch us on YouTube.

SOURCE Montefiore Health System

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