In other matters at the Porter County Council meeting on Monday, Sheriff
David Lain asked the Council to approve an emergency 144 job description
form after a longtime registered nurse at Porter County Jail announced her
resignation effective Dec. 28.
What complicates the matter is the Sheriff’s Department is in the process of
seeking a new contractor for its medical staff after its contract with
Advanced Correctional Healthcare (ACH) runs out at the end of this year.
Lain is still working with the National Institute of Corrections on finding
a new provider to hire additional medical nurses at the jail and Juvenile
Service Center which is expected not to be final until after the new year.
ACH has agreed to continue as the provider on a month-to-month basis until a
new contract is reached but Lain said he does not know if they have someone
available to fill in.
A new correctional RN is needed in order to be in line with state
requirements, Lain said. The jail currently has four registered nurses.
The Council saw the need to move quickly but questioned Lain whether the new
employee would be permanent or temporary given the prospective change in
providers and how that would affect salaries.
Lain said the position pays an annual salary of $75,000 and there is enough
funds in unused salaries to cover the costs. Doing the math, Council
Vice-president Karen Conover, R-3rd, said that to pay a new nurse until the
end of the year, the cost would be about $3,125.
The Council ultimately approved 6-0 for a contract for the nurse to be paid
a maximum of $5,000 for the rest of the year.
Lain said the position is unique because the hire would need to have a
background specifically in providing medical care for inmates in a
correctional facility but he is confident his department will be successful
in finding a candidate.
“We have no choice but to succeed,” said Lain.
Meanwhile, the Council approved Lain’s request to pay out of transfers
$28,800 for services provided by Porter-Starke for this year. The amount is
a difference stemming from the $25 inmate processing fee which had replaced
the standard booking fees for each person booked at the jail.
The fees are used for inmate education and counseling by Porter-Starke.
The changes in fees took place over six months ago and were approved by the
County Commissioners when the State Board of Accounts ruled that fees could
not be collected before a conviction.
Back when the initial fee was charged, the courts were collecting roughly
$12,000 a month, but since the changes only about $3,000 has been taken in,
Lain said he is thinking of ways to recoup more of the funds, but added that
this may be nothing more than a “lag” in collection methods.
For its final
action of the year, the Council said its farewells to retiring South County
Commissioner Carole Knoblock, D-South, by presenting her with a plaque of
appreciation. Knoblock was first elected to the Commissioner office in 2004.
Sylvia Graham (D-At-large), a close friend, said Knoblock is a “lifer” – one
who has spent their whole life in Porter County.
“She loves her
community. She’s given back all her life,” Graham said.
Before her two
terms as commissioner, she also served two terms as a County Council member,
another two as Porter Township Trustee/Assessor, and was a school bus driver
for 32 years.
“Thank you. I’ve
enjoyed every year of it,” Knoblock responded.