Inmate healthcare change proposed
A plan that would transfer medical responsibilities at the parish jail from the coroner’s office to a private firm was presented to the Acadia Parish Police Jury during an otherwise routine meeting here Tuesday night.
Sheriff K.P. Gibson gave 90 days notice to the police jury that he intends to void the intergovernmental agreement that provides two medics for the jail.
“The police jury funds the medics, but they are on our payroll,” Gibson explained. “Our liability insurance through the Sheriff’s Association will not cover medical.”
Gibson recommended that the jury consider a third-party service.
“Besides the medics and the doctor once a week, there are a lot of incidental costs that are being incurred right now,” he said. “There’s transportation to and from the doctors or the hospital; there’s dental services, which are outsourced; there’s the overtime or comp time for the medics; there’s mental health issues and more.”
Gibson estimated that it currently costs the parish between $175,000 and $200,000 annually for inmate health.
In conjunction with Gibson’s presentation, Dr. Johnny Bates, president and CEO of Quality Correctional Health Care, addressed the jury regarding his company’s operations.
QCHS currently provides healthcare to approximately 12,000 inmates in more than 70 jails in six states, according to Bates. The facilities range in size from small 20-bed municipal jails to large, multi-site detention facilities with more than 1,000 inmates.
The Birmingham, Alabama-based company has provided services at the St. Mary Parish Jail since February, 2018.
Bates presented four service options, ranging in price from $448,080 to $525,600 annually.
“We can’t come close to what your cost is now,” he said, “but the level of care you’re getting now is not comparable to what we provide.”
Jury President Chance Henry said the matter would be taken under advisement.
“We’re obviously going to have to get other bids,” he said.”
Per Gibson’s notice, the current intergovernmental agreement will expire on June 8.
A number of appointments also were approved by jurors, including:
• Kirk Landry replacing Ronald Castille to the Second Ward Drainage District No. 1 (Wallace Duplechain’s appointment was postponed);
• Brent Reinhart, Eric Link and Pat Prather to Fire Protection District No. 1;
• Laura Faul to replace Walter Truax to Fire Protection District No. 2;
• Kurt Savoie, Paul Guidry, Curtis “Tex” Guidry and Blaine Dupont (to replace Pat Kirsch) to Fire Protection District No. 6; and
• Mary Beth Miller to replace Dana Frey to the Acadia Parish Tourist Commission.