JASPER, Tenn. -- When Marion County became embroiled in a lawsuit with county inmates concerning medical care, officials were surprised to find there was no written contract with the county jail's medical director.
A contract is required by state law, Marion County Attorney Billy Gouger said.
"Counties must have a written contract with their jail physician and, in the preparations for defending that lawsuit, we discovered that we didn't have a written contract," he said. "As far as we could tell, we'd never had one."
To remedy the situation, County Mayor John Graham said bids for the contract were requested last month. Only one offer came in, he said.
This week, county commissioners unanimously approved Dr. Rusty Adcock as the new county jail medical director for $169,442 per year.
Graham said the bid covers the position of jail medical director and all of the staff needed for medical care at the county jail.
Adcock will hire his own staff for the jail, officials said, and will take over on March 17.
Adcock said the liability to the county that may have previously existed at the jail will be much less now.
"Everybody who's going to be working for me at the jail is going to be certified and highly trained," he said. "People that didn't really have a license to be dispensing medicine are no longer going to be there."
The county budgets $185,000 per year for the jail's medical services, Graham said, and in the last fiscal year, it paid more than $54,000 in medical expenses at the facility.
"That includes ... medications that are paid for by the county," he said. "This number fluctuates quite a bit, depending on what happens at the jail."
According to the contract, the jail physician must be available 365 days a year, 24 hours per day. It also requires a minimum of two sick calls by the doctor each week, officials said, and a certified nurse must be on duty from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day.
Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.