Delay in medical services contract for jail irks sheriff
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent April 23, 2013 9:20PM
Updated: May 25, 2013 6:48AM
VALPARAISO — Porter County Sheriff David Lain got approval from the Porter County Council on Tuesday to spend $39,000 in unused salaries to boost the salary of one of the three nurses at the jail, and to hire some part-time medical staff for the next month or so.
But the bigger issue, for him and the council, was frustration over the inability to get a new contract for medical services at the jail, a process that has stretched out for several months.
Lain received requests for proposals for medical services in November, but sent them back after a study from the National Institute of Corrections made some recommendations.
He was ready to move forward last month when the Board of Commissioners said it wouldn’t consider his recommendation for the firm he selected until his department underwent an independent financial audit from Umbaugh and Associates, which he has heard nothing about since.
And last week, he learned a committee was being formed that he didn’t know about.
He welcomed the committee if it was for fiscal matters, but not if it was to select a medical provider, because he’s already made his decision.
“I’m frustrated. I don’t know why it’s taken so long,” he said.
Commissioner Nancy Adams, R-Center, said the committee is meeting Wednesday to go over the four or five requests for proposals Lain received because they varied from $700,000 or $800,000 to $1.8 million annually.
The committee, she said, wants to make sure any contract will provide enough medical coverage for the jail and examine the finances, “because it’s a lot of money.”
But Lain said going over the proposals is “the job of myself and my staff,” and council members were concerned that putting medical services off any longer opens the county up to a lawsuit or a federal mandate, which happened to the Lake County Jail.
“We must acknowledge the urgency of this before it’s too late,” said Councilman Jim Biggs, R-1st District.
The part-time employees, Lain said, would be a stopgap measure, with funding to get through the next four or five weeks.
Adams said she expects the committee to complete its work in two or three weeks, if not sooner.