New contract provides mental health services to inmates

By Nicholas Johnson of the Leader
Posted 3/15/16

Sheriff Dave Stanko said a new medical care services contract for jail inmates is “a great first step,” but fails in keeping the county's money within the county.

“I am disappointed that …

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New contract provides mental health services to inmates

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Sheriff Dave Stanko said a new medical care services contract for jail inmates is “a great first step,” but fails in keeping the county's money within the county.

“I am disappointed that [jail superintendent] Steve [Richmond] and I could not build a local cooperative to take care of our jail physical and mental health needs with local providers,” Stanko told the board of county commissioners March 14. “With Adam Marquis and Jefferson Mental Health and Jefferson Healthcare, and with other local doctors, I will continue to work for a local solution.”

The commissioners unanimously approved a $97,000, year-long contract with Healthcare Delivery Systems based in Olympia. That provider currently serves Thurston and Mason county jails, as well as jails in Olympia, Puyallup and Fife.

Healthcare Delivery Systems provided medical services for the Jefferson County Jail in Port Hadlock prior to 2004, when Ken Brown and Linda Peterson took over. Brown and Peterson provided services at an annual cost of roughly $45,000, Richmond said.

“They're already familiar with the operation of the Jefferson County Jail, so I think it should be a smooth transition,” county administrator Philip Morley said of Healthcare Delivery Systems.

New services include twice-monthly mental health evaluations by a Psychiatric Advanced Registered Nurse. Other services include twice-weekly sick calls and 24/7, year-round phone triage and consultation by doctor Miguel Balderrama.

Morley said Balderrama has overseen services provided by Brown and Peterson, and would continue to do so under the new contract. He also said Jefferson Mental Health would continue to provide services on a referral basis.

“I think this is a huge step forward,” Morley said. “It's no substitute for the services of Jefferson Mental Health. We will still continue to partner with Jefferson Mental Health, for sure.”

The contract, which starts April 1 and runs through March 31, 2017, is paid for through the general fund as well as some $32,000 of unspent money from the 2016 county budget earmarked for jail healthcare services.

Stanko said the new contract is in line with a proclamation the commissioners made in October 2015 in support of the Stepping Up Initiative to reduce the number of people with mental illness in the county jail.

“We need to break the cycle of 70 percent recidivism, of drug abuse, mental illness, or a combination of both in our jail,” Stanko said. “This is a good first step, but let's continue to see if we can find a local solution with partners like Adam Marquis and Jefferson Mental Health.”

Stanko said he and Richmond worked with Jefferson Mental Health and Jefferson Healthcare to put together a local provider package, but the estimated cost was too high.

“I think it's well worth us taking another look to see if we can find a local solution to this, even though Shannon Young of Healthcare Delivery Systems has brought forth a great proposal. I still would like to see us, with all the resources we have locally, keep our money in Jefferson County and continue to look for a local solution.”

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