A green light has been extended from members of the McDuffie County Board of Commissioners to McDuffie County Manager Don Norton to work with Sheriff Logan Marshall regarding inmate health care at the county jail.
Permission was granted during last Tuesday night's commission meeting.
"We've been around and around about this," Commission Chairman Charlie Newton said, noting that two local doctors had indicated they no longer wanted to be part of providing such services.
A third local doctor recently was asked to consider taking over the medical needs of inmates at the jail, but since he was approached the issue has become "complicated," Mr. Newton explained.
Dr. Jamie Lemley currently is providing medical services to inmates at the jail, according to Mr. Newton.
"Dr. Lemley wants out," Mr. Newton said, noting that he had wanted to address the issue with Dr. Darryl Wiley, who had offered medical services at the jail in the past. Mr. Newton said he had not been able to discuss the issue any further with Dr. Wiley.
Mr. Norton pointed out that Sheriff Marshall had expressed a desire to go ahead and contract out such services with a private firm, even though it will be more costly.
The county manager said the sheriff addressed the matter with him earlier last Tuesday.
"The sheriff wants to move almost immediately, so I understand," Mr. Norton said.
Mr. Newton agreed saying something needed to be done.
"I want to get this pressure off the sheriff," Mr. Newton said.
Mr. Newton suggested that Mr. Norton get with Sheriff Marshall to work out the details concerning the issue.
The commission chairman also asked Mr. Norton to keep commissioners abreast of the details "assuring this board we're not jumping off the cliff."
Commissioners have spent about $192,000 during the last 12 months for medical costs, including dentistry.
The Rev. Fred Favors recommended going with whatever Sheriff Marshall had suggested.
"We're left open to this liability, if we don't," Rev. Favors said. "I suggest we just follow the sheriff's lead at this point."
Commissioner Paul McCorkle supported the view of Mr. Newton in allowing Mr. Norton to work out details with Sheriff Marshall.
Commissioner Bill Jopling and the Rev. Favors made motions to get things started in that direction. Fellow commissioners unanimously supported the motion.