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Medical outsourcing prevalent in Pennsylvania jails

Posted on April 16th, 2012 Read time: 1 minutes

Oneida County Jail in Pennsylvania recently contracted with an HR outsourcing service to provide better care for inmates, the Utica Observer-Dispatch reports.

The jail will be spending nearly $75,000 more under the agreement than if it were to use its own staff to provide care, however it will be "getting more for (its) money" from the service it outsourced, the news source explains.

Previously, the jail did not have a nurse available for the night shift, leaving an untrained correctional officer to assist sick patients and relay information to doctors over the phone. This was not only inefficient, but brought with it several liability issues.

Now, the jail has around-the-clock medical care, which is necessary given the deteriorating state of inmates. The media outlet explains inmates are sicker than they were in the past, dealing with drug addictions and other medical problems. They are also suffering from more mental illnesses, which are only exacerbated by state cutbacks to services that assist them.

A total of 14 jails in the state use outside medical providers, including the State Correctional Institute at Graterford, although union members and nurses were against the move because they believe the turnover associated with outsourcing contributes to an unsafe environment for corrections staff, CorrectionsOne reports. 

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