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Repeat Offense Down 61% at Sanpete Jail, Thanks to Intermountain Community Health Worker Program

Intermountain Health Community Health Worker Program reduces recidivism by 61 percent by working with incarcerated individuals with substance use and opioid use disorders

(PRUnderground) May 21st, 2024

A remarkable program by the Intermountain Health Community Health Team and Cheryl Swapp, a community health worker employed by the Utah’s Sanpete County Sheriff’s Department, was honored this week.

Working with substance use and opioid use disorders with incarcerated individuals resulted in a remarkable reduction in recidivism – where individuals are resent to the jail after release for repeating criminal behavior. In the 18 months before Swapp was hired, Sanpete County had 599 repeat offender bookings. In the 18 months since the community health worker program with Swapp began at the jail, there have been 236 repeat offender bookings, representing a 61 percent reduction in recidivism.

Intermountain’s Community Health team, alongside community health worker Cheryl Swapp, presented this initiative and its results at the 2024 Health Resources and Services Administration Reverse Site Visit Meetings in Washington, DC.

The 1,000-person audience of grantees and HRSA officials selected Intermountain’s Community Health team as one of six grantees to present at the conference out of hundreds that were represented in attendance. The team’s presentation was the top winner among the other six other grantees based on the following criteria: community impact, creativity, wow factor, applicability, and overall presentation.

As the team noted in their presentation, the resources and clinical support provided through this grant and Intermountain Health have resulted in a large reduction in repeat offender bookings at Sanpete County Jail.

The project started back in 2020 when Intermountain’s Community Health team received a HRSA Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP) Planning Grant to conduct a robust needs assessment in Central Utah.

In 2021, Intermountain Health received two HRSA Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP) grants: Implementation III and the Psychostimulant Support Grant, totaling $1.5 million dollars in funding.

With that funding, Intermountain hired Swapp, a community health worker employed by the Sanpete County Sheriff’s Office in July of 2022. Swapp has become an advocate for people in the jail in many ways, during their sentence and after they leave.

“Cheryl is deeply connected to the community she serves. She advocates effectively for the individuals she works with and supports them with compassion, thoughtfulness, and empathy,” said Sarah Diefendorf, Intermountain Community Health director. “Cheryl embodies the best of community health workers and the best of caregivers, and we could not do this work without her.”

Swapp conducts the substance and opioid use screenings, works to help send jail staff to conferences and trainings, and holds Moral Reconation Therapy. USARA is able to hold peer support classes as well. Swapp then meets with incarcerated individuals in the criminal justice system and follows up with upon their exit from the jail.

“Access to resources is a necessity for individuals leaving incarceration. With our Community Health Worker, we now have the tools to effectively assist these individuals in reintegrating into the community,” said Sgt. Gretchen Nunley, with Programming at Sanpete County Sheriff’s Office. “Rather than departing without guidance on their next steps, they leave with a plan and a sense of security, knowing they have our community health worker to support them.”

Dominique Felton was one of the people helped by the program and Swapp. She had started using drugs at 13 years old. In her 20’s, which escalated to selling drugs to maintain her habit. By the time she was incarcerated, she had 10 warrants for her arrest.

In the Sanpete County Jail in Utah, her life would get the turn-around needed thanks to the work of Cheryl Swapp and Intermountain’s Community Health team.

“Cheryl kept in contact with a rehab [facility] that I wanted to go to and made sure they had a bed for me,” Felton said. “Without her, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

Felton is now over a year sober, employed, and reconnected with her children.

“There are people back at the Sanpete County jail that are waiting to take that first step in a lifestyle change and I can’t wait to be there to help them. There is so much more I want to do to expand the program before the grant ends,” Swapp said.

This would not be possible without key community collaborators in this work, including the:

  • Sanpete County Sheriff’s Office
  • Central Utah Counseling Center
  • Central Utah Department of Health
  • Fourpoints Health
  • Salt Lake Harm Reduction Coalition
  • Snow College
  • South Sanpete County School District
  • Utah Office of the Medical Examiner
  • USARA (Utah Support Advocates for Recovery Awareness)

“I think this work embodies one of our core values as an organization: that we are better together,” Diefendorf said. “We would not see the success we celebrate today with our work on opioid use in Central Utah without the strong support and collaboration with our community partners and project officers at HRSA. This funding has given us the opportunity to build a new program to respond to a community need together.”

This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $1.5 million with 100 percentage funded by HRSA/HHS and $0 and zero percentage funded by nongovernment sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA/HHS, or the U.S. Government.

About Intermountain Health

Headquartered in Utah with locations in seven states and additional operations across the western U.S., Intermountain Health is a nonprofit system of 33 hospitals, 385 clinics, medical groups with some 3,900 employed physicians and advanced care providers, a health plans division called Select Health with more than one million members, and other health services. Helping people live the healthiest lives possible, Intermountain is committed to improving community health and is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes at sustainable costs. For more information or updates, see

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