Porter County sheriff doesn’t want to rush jail medical contract
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent February 19, 2013 3:28PM
Porter County Sherfiff David Lain
Updated: February 19, 2013 8:59PM
VALPARAISO — Porter County Sheriff David Lain put off making a recommendation for medical services at the county jail Tuesday, telling the Board of Commissioners he needs more time.
“We’ve decided we don’t want to come to a hasty decision. It’s a big project,” he said, adding county attorney Betty Knight is helping him with inquiries to vendors who’ve applied for the contract, and he hopes to have a recommendation at the next meeting.
In October, the commissioners gave Lain the go-ahead to ask for bids for medical services at the jail. He has said medical services at the jail are inadequate, and the jail lacks staffing overnight, causing costly trips to the emergency room and opening the county up to litigation.
The current contract, with Advanced Correctional Healthcare of Peoria, Ill., is for $250,000 a year and is being renewed month to month. Full medical services at the jail could cost $800,000.
“We’re really sharpening our pencils,” Lain said, adding that’s another reason he put off making a proposal. “I think we can trim some of the proposals that were brought before us.”
Lain also has been working off of recommendations made for the jail by the National Institute of Corrections, a division of the federal Department of Justice, and re-issued his request for proposals late last year after consultants with the NIC made some suggestions.
The jail has three medical staff serving 430 inmates, Lain said, adding he’s trying to avoid the morass the Lake County Jail is in, which included federal mandates and inspections to improve jail conditions.
“It’s certainly not enough,” he said of the medical staff.
In other business, commissioners received bids to purchase five additional single-axle dump trucks with plows for the highway department, the last phase of an ongoing effort to upgrade the department’s vehicles.
Department supervisor Al Hoagland said the truck replacement program began eight years ago, when his department had five roadworthy vehicles. The department now has 37 trucks, and 32 of them are less than seven years old.
The new equipment has cut the department’s maintenance costs by $40,000 to $70,000 a year, said Hoagland, adding the trucks are top of the line.
“The attitude of the drivers is, they appreciate those trucks more than anyone knows,” he said.
The additional five trucks will give the department back-up vehicles if another truck breaks down.
The bids were from Chicago International Harvester, for $980,885; Mack Trucks, for $988,580.75; and Truck City, for $970,000. Hoagland will make a recommendation to the commissioners at their next meeting.