Butler sheriff hopes adding medical staff to prison will reduce OT
The Butler County sheriff hopes that expanding the county prison's medical staff will cut down on costly overtime for transporting prisoners to medical facilities.
Last year, the sheriff's department spent more than $35,000 on overtime related to medical transports, Sheriff Michael Slupe said. That accounted for 60 to 70 percent of the total overtime cost.
“The issue is, can we reduce overtime by additional staff in the jail, by them being able to triage patients who need further medical attention earlier in the day?” Slupe said.
Slupe said that two deputies are now required to escort prisoners for medical visits at Butler Memorial Hospital. After 4:30 p.m. it's a four-hour overtime minimum for the deputies, some of whom are on call, Slupe said.
The county's prison board this month voted to pay Wexford Health Resources $130,000 through the end of the year to add a registered nurse five days a week and a licensed practical nurse seven days a week to the jail staff.
Other changes include adding two hours per week for one psychiatric nurse and one psychiatric doctor.
“Right now, we're struggling back there,” Warden Rick Shaffer said of the prison. Of the 375 inmates in the prison last week, 195 were on medication, meaning the medical staff spends lots of time dispensing, leaving them less time to deal with other medical issues.
“I've been saying for a while, I'm concerned that something's going to happen,” Shaffer said. He noted that a psychiatric doctor had just three hours on a Monday to see 45 prisoners.
The prison budgeted about $620,000 for prisoner health care for 2014, Shaffer said, which he hopes will be enough to cover the extra $130,000. He said he has $190,000 in a contingency fund for any cost overruns, or he could use a portion of the prisoner commissary fund.
County commissioners are expected to approve the additional spending at their Wednesday meeting, Shaffer said. At the end of the year, the warden added, the county can decide whether to keep using the additional staff.
The county also is looking at other ways to cut down on medical costs at the prison, including establishing a mental health court. Butler County President Judge Thomas Doerr said the mental health court will allow the county to better supervise inmates, reducing the chance they'll repeat their crimes.
Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.