Porter County Jail medical staff facing issues
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent December 23, 2012 12:04AM
Porter County Sheriff David Lain. | File Photo~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 24, 2013 6:24AM
VALPARAISO — The Porter County Jail’s medical staffing, already short for meeting inmate’s needs, is facing another challenge as the jail’s registered nurse, working under contract, will be leaving Dec. 28.
The Porter County Council on Monday gave emergency approval for a maximum of $5,000 to staff the position into early January, giving Sheriff David Lain time to find another nurse.
Medical staffing has been an ongoing concern at the jail, because no one is on duty overnight. Lain has said the lack of staff is costly because inmates end up in the emergency room if a medical issue comes up and no one is available to assess what’s wrong.
Lain had put out a request for proposals for medical staffing at the jail, with the hope of having a new firm in place by the start of the year. Advanced Correctional Healthcare has had the contract for the past several years; it expires at the end of the year, though the firm has agreed to continue on a month-to-month basis.
The nurse was provided through Advanced, but the firm will not fill that position on an interim basis, Lain said, so he must now find someone to fill her spot.
“That complicates matters greatly,” Lain said.
Also complicating matters is the delay in getting a permanent contract in place with a health care provider for the coming year.
Lain received several proposals for the work, but is re-issuing his request for proposals after consultants with the National Institute of Corrections made some suggestions.
The institute did a feasibility study for the sheriff’s department on opening the third pod of the jail to alleviate overcrowding, and is now working on another study about medical staffing. Both studies are provided at no cost.
Though the medical study is not complete, the consultants were able to make recommendations in seeking the bids for health care, Lain said.
The matter also came up before the Porter County Board of Commissioners’ meeting on Tuesday.
“I would like to get this back on track as quickly as possible,” Lain said.