Inmate health care: Bradley officials deciding how to medical costs at jail

Inmate health care: Bradley officials deciding how to medical costs at jail

May 8th, 2009 by Randall Higgins in News

CLEVELAND, Tenn. - Medical care providers took a tour of the Bradley County Jail medical facilities Thursday as they prepare their proposals to provide inmate medical care.

As inmates were being seen by the nursing staff, the visitors looked at medical examine rooms and dental areas, record keeping. They also questioned Sheriff Tim Gobble and Jail Administrator Gabe Thomas about administrative procedures.

Some cells at the jail are specifically designed for inmates who need to be quarantined, Mr. Gobble told the group. Those four one-person cells include a separate ventilation system to protect other inmates from communicable diseases.

County Commissioner Howard Thompson, chairman of the Law Enforcement Committee, said the responses to county requests for proposals are due May 13.

"Right now we are working on whether to go in-house or to contract medical,'' Mr. Thompson said. "We've either got to accept a contract by June or go in-house."

The current contract provider is Detention Health Care Associates but that contract is ending.

Among the choices waiting for a county decision is whether a contractor will provide 16- or 24-hour service, seven days a week. Previously, the commission chose 16 hours as a way to cut costs.

But DHCA Lead Nurse Brenda Roberts said third shift corrections officers have to make the call at night whether an inmate needs to be taken to a hospital. Usually they choose the local hospital emergency room in order to be cautious, she said.

County Attorney Joe Byrd, who was not available for the tour, has cautioned commissioners in the past, however, that a 24-hour service should be considered.

Amy Moore, County Commission legislative assistant, told visitors the county's goal is to provide good inmate care at an affordable cost to taxpayers.