A decision by the Caldwell County Jail’s contract medical provider is causing some controversy among the facility’s inmates.
Jailer Jon Pettit briefed the Caldwell County Fiscal Court this week on a decision to wean inmates off of narcotic medications such as suboxone and morphine and prescribe alternate medications instead.
“They’re very upset,” Pettit said, of the jail’s inmates. “But the doctor is making the call. It’s not us.”
Last fall, the jailer received fiscal court approval to pursue a contract with a private firm, Advanced Correctional Healthcare, to handle the jail's routine medical duties, such as medications.
“It became necessary because we were getting so many drug- and alcohol-related inmates,” Pettit said this week. Rather than having jail staff transport inmates to local clinics or physicians' offices, ACH employees can now see the inmates on-site at the jail.
The company began working at the jail Thursday, Jan. 17, and a company doctor is responsible for medical decisions at the facility.
“It's all up to them,” Pettit said. “They're the ones that oversee all the prescriptions. The doctor oversees everything; we do what they tell us to do, basically.”
Among those decisions being made is the one to reduce the amount of prescription opioids administered to inmates.
“He has taken them down to a need vs. a want,” said Pettit. “These guys were coming off the street addicted, and the county had to pay for it. Anything they had a prescription for.”
The result of the new policy will be good for the county, good for local taxpayers and good long-term in the fight against the opioid epidemic.
The jail is also nearing completion on its own website, www.caldwellcountyjail.com, which will provide a full array of information on the jail, inmates and inmate services.
In other business at Tuesday’s fiscal court meeting:
* Magistrate Jeff Simms was appointed to the local Igniting Voices board.
* Heath Cummins was appointed to the Caldwell County Extension District Board.
* Princeton Mayor Dakota Young was appointed to the Princeton-Caldwell County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) board.
Princeton City Council members had approved the appointment of Judge/Executive Larry Curling to the same board earlier this month.
• Curling expressed appreciation to courthouse employees for their efforts to park in a county lot during business hours, freeing up space around the courthouse for residents. “It’s a whole lot better,” he said.
• The court's next meeting is set for 9 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 12.