BCSO Contracted Medical Services Cut Costs for Inmate Healthcare

Benton County -- A new healthcare program at the Benton County jail is cutting costs and adding services for inmates.

The sheriff's office started contracting out medical services to Southern Health Partners on Monday.

"It's going to save the county quite a bit of money every year," says Deputy Keshia Guyll. "They provide us with a doctor, nurses and even a mental health professional... before we didn't have that."

The partnership is cheaper for the sheriff's office than providing its own in-house medical staff, and also adds 24 hour nursing services, and improved preventative care for inmates staying two weeks or longer.

"They will get a complete history, medical history, and physical," Guyll says. "High blood pressure, diabetes, things like that, can be caught up front instead of waiting until there's already an issue."

Guyll says the majority of lawsuits inmates file against the sheriff's office involve medical care, but with this new program, Southern Health Partners assumes all liability.

"It just kind of takes the sheriff's office out of the equation," she says. "Any lawsuits that are filed, they will handle those in house with their own company."

SHP is reevaluating current patients and prescriptions.

"I just talked to one of the head nurses and she's excited," Guyll says. "I'm sure there's still some kinks to work out, you know having a brand new medical staff, and in this size of a facility it's going to take some time."

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