Jail gets new medical services

By DeeAnna Haney | Jul 04, 2014
Rebecca Steppe, LPN and clinical site coordinator and Nikki Busbin, administrative clerk, open a jail cell to administer medication to an inmate.

A new nursing staff is caring for the inmates at the Haywood County Detention Center as of July 1, bringing better medical services to the jail, says the sheriff.

As part of the recently approved county budget, a $180,000 contract was signed with Transform Health Rx, a clinical based healthcare company out of Georgia. The contract for medical services at the jail comes up for renewal every year, said Sheriff Greg Christopher. When he was appointed sheriff last year, the contract with the company Southern Health Partners was renewed because he came into the position as the county's budget was being formed.

"What we did this year was look at many different companies to see where we could get the best healthcare coverage for our inmates and evaluate the cost of the care," Christopher said.

The selected company already works in Buncombe and Transylvania county jails.

"Both of these counties were extremely pleased with the inmate care that was provided along with their costs," Christopher said. "The jail administrator in Buncombe County and the sheriff in Transylvania County did nothing but sing their praises."

The contract with Transform Health Rx is about $40,000 more than the previous company, but addresses some important issues when it comes to medical services that were lacking at the jail, he said.

A nurse now works at the jail seven days a week compared to the previous company, which only provided nurse care six days a week.

The biggest reason for the switch was to prevent detention center staff from having to administer medication to inmates when the nurse was not there one day a week, which was a liability issue that concerned the sheriff.

"I did not like the idea of any of our detention officers passing out medicine," Christopher said.

The jail averages between 110 and 125 inmates at a time and about 25 percent of them, on average, are on some type of medication regimen.

The contract includes providing physicals for employees at the jail, a 24-hour on-call doctor to assist detention staff after hours if needed, on-scene case management, training for officers on how to handle medical emergencies,electronic medical records, cost review and management and monthly bill analysis.

Also, at the recommendation of the company, the county purchased an EKG machine and a nebulizer to upgrade the jail's medical equipment in case of an emergency.


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