By RORYE O’CONNOR
MT. VERNON — —
The Jefferson County Fiscal Committee on Thursday recommended to the full board to contract the services of Advanced Correctional Healthcare for the Jefferson County Justice Center.
The proposal from Advanced Correctional Healthcare is for an annual cost of about $522,000, which provides for a physician, 24-hour healthcare at the Justice Center, a registered nurse administrator, a healthcare administrator, pharmaceuticals for inmates as well as over-the-counter drugs, said Dennis Dougherty, Advanced Correctional Healthcare program consultant.
The motion came with the recommendation of Jefferson County Sheriff Roger Mulch and the Justice Center command staff.
Mulch said he is confident that once the medical services from the company have been put into place at the jail, which takes about 30 days, that Immigrations and Customs Enforcement will quickly reestablish the level of detainee housing previously at the jail.
Dougherty said the proposal cost is based on the jail being fully staffed and having all the inmates there, and if it takes longer for the inmate level to be reestablished, the services provided by Advanced Correctional Healthcare will be scaled back and the costs reconciled quarterly.
He said the company provides a number of services to the jails it works with, including reviewing off-site medical bills and working to negotiate a lower rate with local hospitals, as well as providing an in-house attorney.
Advanced Correctional Healthcare will indemnify the county in the case of a loss caused by one of their staff, Dougherty said, meaning the company would secure the county against losses or damages.
Board member Bob Watt asked if choosing to work with the healthcare company would provide any savings on the county’s liability insurance.
Board Chairman Robert White said he would check with Traveler’s, the county’s liability insurance provider, because working with the company could provide risk management benefits.
“Why this arrangement is very attractive is that Advanced will provide higher quality service that is integral to getting our facility to the 2008 (ICE) standards,” White said.
Dougherty said the company’s contract typically increases by an average of two percent per year, after board member Jim Laird asked the company.
White said the medical costs at the Justice Center were about $300,000 before the budget was amended following the loss of the ICE detainees, meaning the contract with Advanced will cost the county about $237,000 above what was previously budgeted.
He said he has an agreement with Mulch that no additional funds will be taken from any other county department besides the sheriff’s office in order to balance the budget.
“It is going to be a challenge for the rest of the budget year, no matter what path we take to end up in the black,” White said. “Hopefully we will be able to undo some of the changes we were forced to make.”
Watt made the recommendation, with board member Don Rector seconding, and the motion to recommend to the full board passed unanimously.