Porter County jail imates get proper medical care — at a price
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent July 2, 2013 5:46PM
Updated: August 4, 2013 6:24AM
VALPARAISO — At last, the Porter County Jail has 24-hour medical care, but it comes at a price.
At its meeting Tuesday, the Porter County Board of Commissioners approved a contract for almost $1.3 million with Correct Care Solutions in Nashville, Tenn. The firm started work Monday.
The increased medical services, and the possible addition of jail staff to help the medical personnel, are a bump up of about $1 million from what the county has been paying for medical services.
“For the first time in the history of Porter County Jail, there was a medical professional 24 hours a day, and it’s the first time we’ve provide mental health services to the inmates as well,” Sheriff David Lain said.
Lain has been working for more than a year to provide improved health care at the jail, including round-the-clock care. Not having adequate care opened the county and the jail to legal liability.
“This isn’t fluff. This is constitutional,” he said.
The new contract represents an increase of about $800,000 in costs for medical care, Lain said, adding he also wants to hire four additional jail officers, for a total of about $200,000 in salaries and benefits, to work in support of the medical staff.
In the past, non-emergency medical treatment was delayed until an officer could escort medical personnel to an inmate.
“We need to consider this as soon as possible because it does you no good to have medical staff if you can’t get them to the population,” he said.
Correct Care Solutions started work “on a handshake,” Lain said, because the contract hadn’t yet been signed.
Commissioners will work with the Porter County Council to find the funding, said President John Evans, R-North.
Council President Bob Poparad, D-At-large, said later that funding for the medical services would be on the council’s agenda later this month. “We’re exploring all options for funding,”
In other business, commissioners garnered a round of applause when they announced they were giving county employees Friday off, for a long holiday weekend. That gives county employees a total of 13 paid holidays.