DUNCAN, OK (KSWO) -Stephens County is switching to a new system to treat the medical needs of inmates in the county jail, which will save the county about $30,000 each year.
They've signed an agreement with a company called Turn-Key Health to take over the process. The company provides medical service to other county jails in the state, including neighboring Grady and Cleveland counties in central Oklahoma, and Rogers County near Tulsa.
Stephens County Sheriff Wayne McKinney says the switch to Turn-Key Health will help relieve the potential of liability on the part of the county, but it will also free up some manpower from the chore of escorting inmates to the hospital for treatment.
"Anytime an inmate complained of a sickness or pains or whatever, we had to either run them to the ER clinic or run them to the ER room," Sheriff McKinney said.
Sheriff McKinney says that results in daily trips to the ER, but under the new system, the two nurses who currently work for the county will work with an on-call physician who will be assigned specifically to handle calls from the jail.
"It's going to save the county those unnecessary trips because their physician is 24/7 and that nurse can make that call to and make that decision if that person needs to go the ER or can we prescribe this type of medicine," Sheriff McKinney explained.
Turn-Key Health will also install new medical equipment on site, something Stephens County Commissioner Lonnie Estes says was a key selling point in the county's decision.
"X-rays, we'll have that in house, EKG's a lot of that stuff in-house instead having to take them to the doctor," Estes said.
Estes says by having trained medical personnel in place, it will cut down the safety threats that come with moving inmates to and from the hospital.
"The less we have to move the inmates, the safer it is for the public. The deputies can do other things besides doing that. They can be out on the roads patrolling," Estes said.
Turn-Key Health is expected to start working with the jail in June.
Commissioner Estes says the county isn't tied to the contract with Turn-Key Health and can end the agreement at the end of six months if it doesn't work out.