Officials close to settling dispute over jail medical plan

2013-05-07T15:00:00Z 2013-05-07T18:53:17Z Officials close to settling dispute over jail medical planBob Kasarda bob.kasarda@nwi.com, (219) 548-4345 nwitimes.com

VALPARAISO | The Porter County Board of Commissioners and Sheriff Dave Lain appear to be reaching a middle ground in a dispute over health care improvements at the jail.

Lain announced Tuesday that Dental Delivery Systems, of Indianapolis, has been chosen to provide dental services, while pharmacy needs will be provided by In Touch Pharmaceuticals, of Valparaiso.

Two firms -- one from Tennessee and the other from Colorado -- have been chosen as finalists for the main medical care, Lain said. He and representatives from the commissioners office should have the choice narrowed to one company in two weeks, he said.

The latter medical package is the costliest part of the improvements at between $900,000 and $1.2 million a year, Lain said.

The Board of Commissioners surprised Lain in March when they announced intention to have a financial study done at the Porter County Sheriff's Department as part of the effort to bring the jail into compliance with requirements for inmate medical care.

Lain was prepared to wrap up the upgrades by April 2.

Porter County Commissioner President John Evans, R-North, has said the goal is to take a close look at the Lain's budget to determine how best to use those funds and other county money to cover the estimated $1 million in additional annual medical costs.

The dispute over the health care improvements at the jail has tied up funding for a new park building that has been in the works for 13 years. The park department request for $1.5 million from hospital sale interest money failed to garner enough support last month from the Porter County Council to win approval.

Councilman Jim Biggs, R-1st, said he thought the park's proposed education and administration center at Sunset Hill Farm County Park was a wonderful idea, but was unwilling to approve the funding until the medical needs at the jail are addressed.

Evans shot back Tuesday, saying he was disappointed the council has chosen to "hold one project hostage."

"I just really wish they'd grow up," he said of the County Council members.

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