MANSFIELD — Richland County commissioners on Thursday approved a 4-percent increase for the company providing medical services to inmates at the county jail.

The county will pay $607,000 to Advanced Correctional Healthcare, a fee that includes 24/7 medical coverage at the jail.

The unanimous vote came during a meeting with Richland County Sheriff’s Capt. Chris Blunk, the jail administrator, and Rachel Troyer, the county’s central services coordinator.

Blunk said the contract covers a doctor who is available at any time, a full-time registered nurse and about six LPNs.

Advanced Correctional Healthcare has had a contract with the county for jail coverage for the past several years. The expected increase was included in the RCSO budget for 2023.

According to the company website, “Advanced Correctional Healthcare, Inc. (ACH) is the largest county health care provider to just jails in the United States, operating health care teams and customized programs in a variety of correctional settings. We lead the industry in providing a higher standard of medical care, mental health care, and business services for an underserved population.”

Blunk said he is pleased with the medical care provided in the 266-bed jail facility.

“Any medical issue or concern that an inmate has, the medical staff and team would address those medical issues. They triage with their nurses and they would set them up for sick call.

“The doctor comes in once a week and does what we call a sick call. The nurses do sick calls five days a week, Monday through Friday. So they’re out there if there’s any medical issues or concerns, they would do that,” Blunk said. “If anything emergent happens, they respond immediately with our corrections or security staff to address and handle the situation.”

Nurses also handle the distribution of prescription medication for inmates with the approval of the contracted physicians.

“If you’re taking a medication on the outside, as long as you’re current, our doctors still have to check that with the pharmacies and the (outside) doctor. They’ll continue that medication, as well,” Blunk said.

Commisioners approved Blunk’s request two years ago to add a provision to that contract that provides a nurse in the jail during overnight hours.

“I can’t emphasize enough how thankful I am that the overnight, the 24/7, is in place right now,” Blunk said.

“We had several overdoses at the end of August last year where I think about seven (inmates) overdosed in those after hours. Honestly, I think the night shift saved four lives that night,” the captain said.

“That was with our medical team. We were actually even thankful that because they were actually training a nurse (that night) so I actually had two nurses on (duty).

“So it was very helpful in treating two or three at a time with the medical help that we have. So that was very beneficial to what we’re doing,” Blunk said.

Commissioner Cliff Mears asked if the overnight nurse expense was a good investment.

“Absolutely without a doubt,” Blunk replied. “I’m pleased.”

City editor. 30-year plus journalist. Husband. Father of 3 grown sons and also a proud grandpa. Prior military journalist in U.S. Navy, Ohio Air National Guard. -- Favorite quote: "Where were you when...

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