Magazine article Corrections Forum

Private Healthcare Company Organizes County Corrections Medical Records

Magazine article Corrections Forum

Private Healthcare Company Organizes County Corrections Medical Records

Article excerpt

Essex County Correctional Facility jail in Middleton, Mass., was built over 20 years ago and has been privatized for the last 12 years. The jail houses over 1,200 inmates at any given time, and on the same property is a 24-bed women's jail, as well as a work release center. A total of 6,000 inmates are processed through the jail annually, and regardless of if they stay for three days or many years, as soon as the inmate becomes a resident of the facility, that inmate's medical records are the responsibility of Essex County Corrections. That's a lot of medical records to keep track of, and since its healthcare contract has a large budget proportionally and contains numerous particulars, James Lander, assistant superintendent, pays a great deal of attention to the issue of healthcare.

For the last three years, Essex County has enlisted the help of Naphcare to oversee the facility's medical care and records. Initially when Lander wrote the request for proposal to find a new vendor, he required that the company be set up and ready to go within 90 days. Not an easy feat - the new vendor had to set up contacts with area hospitals and other support services as well as make sure all the wiring was set up - and Naphcare was ready 30 days ahead of schedule.

With Naphcare's professionalism and efficiency, Lander knew he had chosen the right vendor to oversee the healthcare for Essex County. On top of all of that, Naphcare was going to put to use the medical rooms that were already prebuilt into the facility 20 years earlier when the jail was built. It was time to wipe the dust that had collected in those rooms and start taking care of inmates onsite.

Ambulance Runs: Bleeding the Facility Dry

Even though the facility has its own x-ray machine, triage center and dental area, "the previous vendor wasn't utilizing those areas the way we wanted them to," Lander says. Lander was finding that inmates were being sent out to the hospital in an ambulance for something as small as minor stitches. The nearest hospital is 10 miles away from the jail, and each time an ambulance was called, it would cost them $700. In addition, they'd have to pay for two officers to transport the inmate, two more officers to fill the holes the transport officers create - the cost adds up fast.

It was frustrating, Lander notes, because a lot of the services could have been done onsite. In addition, since the facility is accredited, it has to follow certain rules, and one of those rules is that an ambulance has to be in and out of the facility within 11 minutes.

Now that Essex County uses Naphcare, a provider of onsite medical personnel and services, it can not only put the facility rooms to good use, but it can save money as well.

Naphcare staff can handle both minor traumas and day-today healthcare. Essex County has negative pressure air rooms (that keep the contaminants in) so that if people with contagious diseases like tuberculosis or hepatitis need to be in sterile areas, those rooms are set up specifically for that, Lander says. All basic dental and eye care is handled onsite as well as the ability to set minor broken bones, like a finger, as well as sutures, blood work and mental health issues. Unless it's a severe emergency, such as an inmate has major internal injuries, Naphcare is equipped to handle it within the facility's walls.

Before, There Was Paper... Lots and Lots of Paper

Before Lander brought in Naphcare, all the medical records and everything were kept on paper. "Originally, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts passed laws that said inmate records had to be kept safe for seven years before they could be destroyed. Then they changed certain rules. And now, we have to keep medical records onsite for the inmate's lifetime," Lander says.

With the current vendor, the medical records reverted back to Essex County once they left)" and they had to find storage space for all the paper documents, which had to be paid for by the square footage. …

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