SNOW HILL – County officials agreed last week to increase medical staffing at the Worcester County Jail to meet the needs of the inmate population.
At the request of Warden Donna Bounds, the Worcester County Commissioners voted unanimously to approve medical staffing adjustments at the jail. Bounds said the changes were needed as health personnel at the facility handled more than 26,000 calls for service last year.
“I believe the staffing adjustments are necessary,” Bounds said. “We’re averaging seeing 72 patients per day.”
Bounds told the commissioners that Correct Care Solutions LLC, the company that provides medical and mental health care to the jail, recommended changes in staffing levels. The company suggested transitioning a nurse to a director of nursing role to provide support for nursing staff as well as increasing evening nurse coverage. The changes, paired with the 2.9 percent fixed increase included in the company’s five-year contract, will bring its annual compensation from the county to slightly more than $1.3 million.
Bounds said the jail’s medical department was overtaxed, in part because of requirements regarding inmate care. She said every person coming into the jail had to be seen by a medical professional as did every person that was released.
“We need to provide the adequate medical care obviously, however this department is overtaxed in their duties,” she said. “A lot of things are being shifted and we have a 24-hour window if a person submits a sick call request they must be seen.”
Commissioner Bud Church said that the service calls the jail’s medical staff responded to last year — 26,332 — was an enormous number for a facility the size of the Worcester County Jail.
“I’m sure we’re above the average due to the fact we have an immigration population,” Bounds said. “Immigration has a standard that requires that all medical care be provided for free.”
Because of that, inmates that aren’t immigration detainees are also not charged for medical care.
“So if you’re a homeless person and you get incarcerated, you get free health,” Church said.
Bounds said he was correct.
In response to a question from Commissioner Joe Mitrecic, Bounds said average daily population was 325 per day.
“So 25 percent of them see a doctor every day?” he asked.
Bounds said they did, because in addition to one-time issues medical staff dealt with chronic care, diabetic clinics and physical exams required when inmates arrived at the facility.
She said that currently, 170 of the inmates at the jail were immigration detainees. The county receives $87.11 per detainee per day for housing those individuals.
The commissioners voted unanimously to approve the changes.