County looks at inmate health care

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 7, 2010

By Cain Madden

The Natchez Democrat

NATCHEZ — Inmates at the Adams County Jail could soon receive health care from a Chattanooga, Tenn., based company at an approximate cost of $70,000 a year.

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The Adams County Sheriff’s Office currently contracts with a local nurse practitioner directly, but at a cost of approximately $20,000 more, the county could contract with Southern Health Partners, who would be able to provide more hours of care and cover the costs of medicine.

But taking inmate health liability off of the Adams County Board of Supervisors and the sheriff’s office is the biggest concern, Sheriff Chuck Mayfield said.

“We approximate what we currently pay is about $50,000 a year, but when you factor in medicine costs it likely goes up,” Mayfield said. “And you never know, you could get an inmate in there that could run the costs way up with a lawsuit.”

Board President Darryl Grennell said the board would allow legal council to review the contract.

Marketing Representative John Hamm said if the county accepts the health care proposal, the inmate health care company would hire from a pool of local physicians.

In other news, Supervisor Henry Watts motioned that the county serve as a grant applicant on behalf of the Judge George Armstrong Library, so the library could potentially install a new air conditioning unit, and the motion was unanimously approved by the board.

The Mississippi Development Authority is offering an Energy Efficiency Block Grant, which could award the library up to $175,000, Southwest Planning and Development District grant writer Alan Laird said. Laird estimated the library would only need $90,000 for the project.

“The MDA discovered that it did not have enough applicants to allocate all of the money it had available during the first round,” Laird said. “With the money left over, they decided to offer a round two.”

In the first round, the City of Natchez applied for light-emitting diodes to replace the city’s traffic lights. Since the city could not apply for the grant twice, Laird asked if the supervisors would act on behalf of the library.

Laird said the only costs that the county could incur are advertising costs to hire a contractor for the project, but Watts’ motion stated that the county would bill the city for those costs.

4 The board voted to hire a certified public accountant to help road department secretary Sylvia Bunch put together the information MEMA needs to reimburse the county for expenses during Hurricane Gustav.

The board previously named Handjis and Company to do the work, but the firm declined.

4 The board adopted memorial resolutions for former Drug Enforcement Administration agent Rex Smith and long-time local Red Cross volunteer Don Winters.

4 Board Attorney Bobby Cox checked into the legality of accepting personal and business checks at the Adams County Justice Court Office and discovered that it was legal.

Cox will next look into the legality of using a computer system that verifies the information on the checks in the office.

Grennell said he was concerned that it was against the law for a government body to pay the fees associated with acquiring the information. Years ago, he said the county was unable to accept credit cards in the tax collector’s office because a government body could not legally pay the fees companies charge to process the card.

Stores pay a fee to allow customers to pay with a credit card, as the companies who operate the machines used to swipe cards charge a fee for the service.

Watts said it was important for justice court to use every avenue available to potentially get money because of the estimated millions of dollars that remain uncollected.

4 The board approved travel for the purchasing and inventory clerk to attend the Mississippi Association of Government Purchasing and Property Agents 2010 annual conference in Biloxi Oct. 25-29.