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Inmate health care costs might go down

Health care costs for inmates at the McDuffie County Law Enforcement Center may soon be significantly reduced if nurses come aboard as planned.

That was the news shared by McDuffie County Manager Don Norton with commissioners at their June 15 meeting.

Earlier this year, Sheriff Logan Marshall and Major Ronnie Williamson had informed commissioners that they needed to go in a different direction concerning inmate health costs. Commissioners agreed when they learned that the costs had skyrocketed, coupled with the fact that a local doctor wanted to cease providing such services at the county jail.

Sheriff Marshall and Maj. Williamson suggested going with a private firm to provide a doctor and a nurse for the facility, which also houses inmates from Warren and Glascock counties, as well as federal inmates.

Last month, commissioners approved a three-year contract with Advanced Correctional Heathcare to provide for a doctor at the jail -- a cost of about $65,400 a year.

That same health care service also offered a nurses package, too. But it toppled the $125,000 mark.

Commission Chairman Charlie Newton believed at the time that the county could find a cheaper route, but yet still offer nursing services to inmates.

Sheriff Marshall and Maj. Williamson looked for ways to cut costs, too.

Since then, the two lawmen have decided to hire a pair of licensed practical nurses, as opposed to having a registered nurse tend to the medical needs of inmates.

The LPNs will work seven days a week, providing various medical services to inmates six hours a day, according to Mr. Newton. The nurses will cost about $30,000 a year -- a savings of about $30,000 to taxpayers had the county gone with the ACH contract for a registered nurse.

Both LPNs live in McDuffie County and have prior work experience in Columbia and Jefferson counties, Mr. Newton said.

Web posted on Thursday, July 01, 2010

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