Primary Service Area: Re-Entry Population
About 10,000 individuals are released from jail or prison each year in the state of New Jersey and one Navigator has made it her mission to help create a smoother transition for those being released. Annabel Hernandez conducts specialized outreach throughout South Jersey with a focus on re-entry. She has developed strong partnerships with county jails and provides free healthcare enrollment assistance within various correctional facilities and halfway houses. “We’ve all had our highs and lows in life,” says Hernandez, “I love helping this population because I am part of their journey back into the community.”
Annabel serves as a valuable resource to those leaving a correctional facility and wants to ensure that both men and women being released are able to have health insurance for their medical needs. Helping an individual obtain health insurance is critical in providing access to proper behavioral health treatment and medicines for chronic illnesses upon release, such as diabetes. Hernandez believes, “a person needs to take care of themselves physically and mentally,” and that is what she strives to help each consumer achieve. Providing access to health insurance is a fundamental step in helping a consumer live a healthy lifestyle, ensuring that they are able to live a more positive life and decrease their chances of reoffending and returning to jail.
In addition to county jails, Annabel has connected with probation officers to provide Navigator services to those on parole. With multiple connections to other organizations and non-profits throughout South Jersey, Annabel not only assists with health insurance needs, but she is also able to refer individuals to different service and community agencies. Annabel knows that connection is key, so she keeps a detailed resource guide with her that can connect those being released with the services that they need, such as shelters and programs that assist with job training and placement. Hernandez remains motivated to help this population because she knows, “if I can offer more than just a pamphlet and give them a little hope for better things to come, I’ve done my job.”