Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Contract approved for Porter County Jail medical services

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

Porter County will spend over $1.5 million this year to provide medical care to inmates at the Porter County Jail.

Tuesday the three member County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a jail medical services contract with Quality Correctional Care of Muncie for 2017 through 2019 at a price tag of $1,545,100 per year.

The County recently ended a three-year contract with Correctional Care Solutions for $1.3 million per year. It was the first time the Jail had a 24-hour licensed health care staff, a requirement now under the guidelines of the National Institute of Corrections.

Sheriff Dave Reynolds told the Commissioners Tuesday that his department did a comparative analysis of which contractor would be most responsive to the Jail’s needs and a contract that would be “the best bang for our buck” in concern for the taxpayers, even though “this is a lot of money.”

QCC is largely exclusive to Indiana, serving 44 of the 92 counties, and is familiar with what the County’s needs are, Reynolds said. The County would get better care, staffing and support, he said. It will negotiate the cost of prescription drugs which are $90,000 per year.

“Everything we’ve asked of them that we wanted they complied with,” Reynolds said. “To me, that goes a long way.”

The Sheriff’s Department Business Manager Edie Hahn said the number of nurses will increase. Reynolds said some of the nurses hired by Correction Care Solutions will be staying on with the new contract.

“We made it clear we don’t want them gone. There are several of them sitting here today. They come to work and represent the County very well,” said Reynolds.

The demand for medical services has increased over the years at the Jail, Reynolds said. “It’s a major operation in there. It’s like a hospital, 24/7. Where we have taken it is a lot better than what it was. We can take it even further.”

Commissioner Jim Biggs, R-North, said he was “alarmed” by the cost but the County must provide it under federal and state mandates. It would be a much higher cost to the County if not for the medical services provider, facing legal liabilities.

Commissioner President Jeff Good, R-Center, said the cost has an “economic impact” to Porter County, signifying the problem it has with drug use.

“I think what we see today is the financial impact of the County. We hear the heartbreaking stories. It translates back to your government and the money we’re spending on jail medical is a lot,” Good said. He commended the Sheriff’s Department for using due diligence in finding a medical provider.

In other actions, the Commissioners agreed to other contracts for the jail, including one with Frontline Foundations to offer its faith-based substance abuse program to female inmates.

Known as “The God Pod,” the program, paid for with a grant last year for the male inmates, has been well-received, Reynolds said. The department will be using about $5,000 out of user fees to provide the program for a few months and is hoping for a grant this year to carry it further.

The number of female inmates has increased from about eleven in 1999 to around 75 today, Reynolds added, with most primarily drug related.

The Commissioners also approved extending a contract with Copier Consultants for service and copier maintenance and Colleen Dougherty for intel analysis work for the Sheriff’s Department’s Heroin Overdose Response Team.

Certificate sale

The Commissioners discussed at-length two vendor proposals submitted for the upcoming delinquent property certificate sale sometime this spring.

County Auditor Vicki Urbanik said a certificate sale follows the County Tax Sale, which was held last October. Properties not sold on a lien at the tax sale will now be available at the Commissioners’ certificate sale. Tax certificates can be sold at a reduced amount from the delinquent taxes. The goal, Urbanik said, is to put the parcels back on the tax rolls and stop recycling them each year at tax sales.

The last time the County had a certificate sale was in 2013 in an online format which did not receive a lot of traffic so the upcoming sale will be held live, she said. This year there are 491 parcels listed, compared to 281 parcels in 2013.

Submitting proposals was the tax sale vendor SRI Inc., of Indianapolis, and Onyx Electronics, of Valparaiso, both offering to run the sale on a fee-based percentage. Each parcel sold, the vendor would receive a certain percentage that is directly deducted from the sale price, Urbanik said.

SRI proposed an all-included 15 percent fee while Onyx offered 7 percent plus additional costs. Urbanik said she has sought to get clarification on what those extra costs would be. The Onyx proposal did not provide legal services like SRI did, she said. SRI has since proposed to match Onyx’s percentage fee.

Biggs and Blaney said they would like to get further clarification from Onyx on what the extra charges would be.

A special Commissioner’s meeting may be held to award the contract for the certificate sale in early February to expedite the process for the Auditor’s Office. Urbanik said the contract could be awarded at the Commissioners’ next scheduled meeting on Feb. 21 but her office would have to move “very, very quickly” to have the sale in mid-April before property tax bills go out.

Financial system

Also, the Commissioners approved Urbanik’s request to contract with Darren Bates of Data Pit Stop to assist in the data conversion of the County’s new financial system, taking over for contractor and former County IT Director Sharon Lippens.

The system is being upgraded by Low Associates. The Auditor’s Office is currently moving the DOS based operating system into a Windows operating system format.

Urbanik said Bates had assisted the County before in 2015 with the excise tax program.

Low is anticipating the system could be ready and conversion completed in April. Departments will be trained on it as the County will be essentially “starting from scratch,” Urbanik said.

The system “will make our operations more efficient” with fewer errors and data entry will be less arduous, Urbanik said.

 

 

Posted 2/1/2017

 
 
 
 

 

 

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