When Harrison County Sheriff George Payne took office, one of his top priorities was to save the county some money, and one of the places he knew that could be done, was the county jail. In the summer of last year, the sheriff convinced the Harrison County Board of Supervisors to privatize medical care at the jail.
The company that recieved the contract is Napha Care out of Birmingham, Alabama. The county pays the company, one and a quarter million dollars a year. That may sound like a lot, but the sheriff says, it is a real bargain. " We are saving the taxpayers about a half a million dollars a year. Just in our medical section at the Harrison County jail." But it's not just about saving money, the sheriff says the service being provided by Napha Care is far better than what the county could do. "Now, because we have a professional group administering the care, we went from just a few nurses and part time doctors to a full time staff."
The jail now has a doctor on site every day. Fourteen nurses work either full or part time. There are also part time dentists, a medical director, a psychiatrist, and a drug and alcohol counselor. Naph Care operates health care facilities at fifteen prisons around the country.Ronald Issac is the regional director. "We have collectively within our company approximately 100 years of experience in correctional health care, and by putting that type of group together we can ferret out a lot of the problems that are historically built into the system."
As further proof of how well this works, Sheriff Payne says last year not a single inmate filed a lawsuit alleging poor medical care. Payne also says the health care provided here is as good as any that could be provided outside the jail.