VALPARAISO | Porter County officials reached an agreement on disputed changes in health care at the jail, but the challenge of funding the $1,299,000 deal and the additional staff needed still lies ahead.
The deal with Correct Care Solutions of Nashville, Tenn., amounts to about $800,000 more a year than the former health care system at the jail, Sheriff Dave Lain said.
Four new jail positions are also needed to make the program work at an additional cost of about $200,000 a year, bringing the entire annual cost of the new care system to $1 million.
"This isn't fluff," Lain told the Porter County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday. "This is a constitutional requirement."
Lain has called the former health care system at the jail the single largest liability facing county government.
The new system, which began Tuesday, provides 24-hour health care for the first time at the jail, he said. Mental health care is also provided for the first time.
The challenge of funding the new health care system will be up the Porter County Council.
Lain said he will also be seeking approval from the council for four new jail positions. The additional jailers are needed, in part, to accompany nurses into the jail population, he said. There have been delays in offering nonemergency care because of a shortage of jailers.
The funding challenge should not come as a complete surprise to the council considering two of its members, Bob Poparad, D-at large and Sylvia Graham, D-at large, served on the committee that resulted in the medical care agreement.
In other business Tuesday, the Commissioners gave county employees an early Fourth of July surprise by deciding to close county government Friday to allow for a four-day weekend.
The surprise move, which attracted some applause, brings the number of paid holidays for county employees to at least 13 for the year, according to the county website.
Valparaiso City Hall is closed Friday, but rather than receiving holiday pay, city employees use their earned time off, according to the city. City employees receive six paid holidays each year.
Portage is open for business Friday. City employees receive nine paid holidays and the day after Thanksgiving, if granted by the mayor.