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Butler County jail to expand medical staff

| Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012, 12:02 a.m.

The Butler County Jail plans to add medical staff, but the cost will be covered by money the jail makes from housing state and federal prisoners, officials said Wednesday.

One part-time medical staff position will be converted to full-time status, and another part-time position will be added for weekend care, giving the jail five full-time and two part-time medical employees.

The county pays Wexford Health Sources more than $44,000 each month to provide health care to inmates.

The county commissioners on Wednesday approved a change in their contract with the company to increase the medical staff at a cost of $3,750 each month, or an additional $45,000 annually. The county's prison board will vote on the changes in October, though Warden Richard Shaffer said he expects them to be approved.

Shaffer pointed to several factors, including more inmates and a greater need for care beyond dispensing medication and giving routine physicals.

“So many inmates have so many serious medical problems,” Shaffer said.

For example, Shaffer, said one pregnant inmate is on methadone, and her unborn child has been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. Other inmates are dealing with diabetes and other ailments.

The contract says the county would have to address whether medical staff should be added if the daily prison population exceeded 375 over a 60-day period.

On Wednesday, Shaffer said, the 512-bed jail had 378 inmates, and recently reached 400.

Shaffer said the jail won't have around-the-clock medical staff, but a nursing supervisor is always on call.

Through Aug. 31, Shaffer said, the jail earned $845,000 from housing state and federal prisoners, a $60 daily rate for state prisoners and $76 for federal prisoners. The county budgeted earning just under $1.1 million for the year.

Shaffer said the jail has 38 federal inmates and 24 state inmates, though those numbers fluctuate.

Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or bvidonic@tribweb.com.

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