County hires new company to provide jail medical care

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Southern Health Partners, based in Tennessee, has been hired to provide Smith County inmates with medical care – including a full time nurse – after a contract was approved by county commissioners during their regular weekly meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 4.

County purchasing director Kim Gould noted while there would be an increase in the cost to the county – an estimated $200,000 – the new company would provide increased service.

“This will allow for better coverage in our juvenile facility, the low risk facility and the mail jail,’’ she said. “We will add a med tech and will also add medical records for all the facilities.’’

Commissioner Terry Phillips asked Gould about the cost increase and she said approximately $78,000 would be for a full time registered nurse. Other increased costs would be associated with the med tech and the electronic records.

Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran said it was easy to choose Southern Health Partners’ bid.

“We had two unique proposals but this was by far the best proposal,’’ Moran said.

Gould also thanked Dr. John English of Bethesda Health Services for his assistance in securing the company for the county.

Phillips made the motion to approve Southern Health Partners and Commissioner Cary Nix added a second.

In another jail related item, commissioners approved a contract to Five Star Correctional Services for meals for county inmates.

Gould told commissioners Five Star would be under a three-year contract and the cost would increase by less than one cent per meal. She said the contract will “provide better officer meals and better juvenile meals.’’

Chet Thomas, deputy director of Smith County Juvenile Services, told commissioners the new company would be an improvement from the past.

“We had noticed the food quality at the juvenile facility was pretty bad and this (Five Star) proposal will improve it,’’ he said. “It will actually save some money in our budget.’’

County Sheriff Larry Smith was also on board with the Five Star proposal.

“I know we are looking forward to working with Five Star,’’ he said. “We are actually saving money by going green with reusable sporks (fork, spoon combination) and reusable cups. This comes to about two cents per meal and if you add that up it will save a lot of money by the end of the year.’’

In other action, commissioners:

-- Adopted a resolution proclaiming Sunday, Sept. 9 as “Flint Baptist Church Day’’ in Smith County. Moran noted the church was the first Southern Baptist Church in Flint.

-- Approved a resolution from the Texas Department of Agriculture, “Texans Feeding Texans: Home Delivered Meal Grant Program’’ for Meals on Wheels Ministry grant funding.

-- Appointed Cori Moore to the North East Texas Public Health District Board. George Roberts of the NETPHD said one of the current board members will have her term expire soon which made an appointment necessary. He said “she would be a great representative for our board.’’

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