New contract increases medical staff in county jail

Island County will soon have a medical professional available 24 hours a day in its jail.

Last week, county commissioners signed a new medical services contract with the company HealthPros Northwest, changing the provider and some of the practices in the facility.

“I think this provides us with much better around-the-clock coverage,” Island County Sheriff Rick Felici told commissioners.

Currently, corrections deputies hand out medications in packets created by nurses during late-night shifts, Jail Chief Jose Briones said.

Under the new contract, medical assistants will be available when bookings come in after 9 p.m. to help with intake and processing instead of waiting until morning, he said.

The contract with HealthPros Northwest is for $429,000 a year.

During the competitive process of choosing a provider, the company wasn’t the only one to offer 24-hour coverage every day. But it offers services based on need rather than one flat rate, which the county prefers.

The jail will be adding a fourth position; in all, there will be a medical assistant, registered nurse, licensed practical nurse and an advanced practice registered nurse.

The provider will also serve the juvenile detention center.

The jail tends to house a population with high medical needs, Briones said. This can include severe withdrawal symptoms, mental illness or serious physical health conditions, he said.

“Having somebody in the building that can provide those services is really important,” he said. “These are people’s family members in this facility, and they want their family members taken care of.”

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