Chesterton Tribune

 
 

Immediate need of nurse at County jail

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

In other matters at the Porter County Council meeting on Monday, Sheriff David Lain asked the Council to approve an emergency 144 job description form after a longtime registered nurse at Porter County Jail announced her resignation effective Dec. 28.

What complicates the matter is the Sheriff’s Department is in the process of seeking a new contractor for its medical staff after its contract with Advanced Correctional Healthcare (ACH) runs out at the end of this year. Lain is still working with the National Institute of Corrections on finding a new provider to hire additional medical nurses at the jail and Juvenile Service Center which is expected not to be final until after the new year.

ACH has agreed to continue as the provider on a month-to-month basis until a new contract is reached but Lain said he does not know if they have someone available to fill in.

A new correctional RN is needed in order to be in line with state requirements, Lain said. The jail currently has four registered nurses.

The Council saw the need to move quickly but questioned Lain whether the new employee would be permanent or temporary given the prospective change in providers and how that would affect salaries.

Lain said the position pays an annual salary of $75,000 and there is enough funds in unused salaries to cover the costs. Doing the math, Council Vice-president Karen Conover, R-3rd, said that to pay a new nurse until the end of the year, the cost would be about $3,125.

The Council ultimately approved 6-0 for a contract for the nurse to be paid a maximum of $5,000 for the rest of the year.

Lain said the position is unique because the hire would need to have a background specifically in providing medical care for inmates in a correctional facility but he is confident his department will be successful in finding a candidate.

“We have no choice but to succeed,” said Lain.

Meanwhile, the Council approved Lain’s request to pay out of transfers $28,800 for services provided by Porter-Starke for this year. The amount is a difference stemming from the $25 inmate processing fee which had replaced the standard booking fees for each person booked at the jail.

The fees are used for inmate education and counseling by Porter-Starke.

The changes in fees took place over six months ago and were approved by the County Commissioners when the State Board of Accounts ruled that fees could not be collected before a conviction.

Back when the initial fee was charged, the courts were collecting roughly $12,000 a month, but since the changes only about $3,000 has been taken in, Lain said.

Lain said he is thinking of ways to recoup more of the funds, but added that this may be nothing more than a “lag” in collection methods.

Commissioner Knoblock celebrated

For its final action of the year, the Council said its farewells to retiring South County Commissioner Carole Knoblock, D-South, by presenting her with a plaque of appreciation. Knoblock was first elected to the Commissioner office in 2004.

Council member Sylvia Graham (D-At-large), a close friend, said Knoblock is a “lifer” – one who has spent their whole life in Porter County.

“She loves her community. She’s given back all her life,” Graham said.

Before her two terms as commissioner, she also served two terms as a County Council member, another two as Porter Township Trustee/Assessor, and was a school bus driver for 32 years.

“Thank you. I’ve enjoyed every year of it,” Knoblock responded.

 

Posted 12/18/2012