The Boone County Commissioners voted unanimously Monday morning to expand medical coverage at the Boone County Jail from 12 hours daily to a round-the-clock presence.
The commissioners approved a contract to pay Quality Correctional Care LLC about $630,000 a year – up from the present $420,000 annually – to have a nurse at the jail 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Sheriff Mike Nielsen said he began thinking seriously about round-the-clock medical coverage after Prince T. McGoy, 58, of Indianapolis, suffered a fatal heart attack in jail Aug. 10.
The attack came four hours after the 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. nursing shift ended. Jail staff contacted Witham Health Services medics, began cardiopulmonary resuscitation and used an automatic external defibrillator to help McGoy regain a pulse, the sheriff’s department said.
McGoy was taken to Witham Hospital in Lebanon and then transported to St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis, where he died.
It was the jail’s first in-custody fatality, Nielsen told the commissioners, adding that the Marion County Coroner’s office reported there was nothing the jail staff could have done to save McGoy who had a history of medical problems.
Lisa Scroggins, owner of Quality Correctional Care, noted her firm has had a contract with the Boone County Sheriff’s Department since January 2017. Her firm provides medical coverage for 67 county jails in Indiana, she said. Boone County becomes the 10th county to provide 24/7 medical care in the jail.
“Patient care is the number one civil risk in a jail,” she told the commissioners. “It’s easy to get sued and even if the suit is groundless, it costs a lot of money to defend it.”
In many counties, she said, “Attorneys approach every person released from jail to see if there is a potential to file a lawsuit. We’ve never been found negligent.”
Quality Correctional Care staffs the jail with nurses – either registered nurses or licensed practical nurses with a doctor on call. In addition, a doctor comes to the jail once a week for sick call.
On any given day, Scroggins said, her firm is responsible for about 12,500 prisoners in Indiana.
The jail houses an average of 220 prisoners a day, said Commissioner Tom Santelli. Nielsen said his jail processes about 3,200 prisoners a year.
Among the services provided by Quality Correctional Care is handling the medical paperwork – alternative payments, private insurance, and hospital eligibility.
Neilsen said, “I don’t have to worry about if they have insurance and handle billing. It’s a tremendous saving to the county.”
In other business, Commissioner Don Lawson was elected president of the commissioners for 2020 on a nomination by Commissioner Jeff Wolfe.