Geneva County sheriff talks healthcare for mentally ill inmates


GENEVA, Ala. (WDHN) — Geneva County Sheriff Tony Helms watches over 109 inmates in his jail and he has to keep a close eye on some more than others due to those who may be mentally ill.

“Recently we had one inmate who had some severe mental problems who has been with me almost a month we have just now with the help of Spectracare to get him regulated enough to move him into population but for one month he has been in a cell by himself on suicide watch,” Sheriff Helms said.

Helms said that’s a daily issue that is causing an increase in staff members and the training for workers to properly deal with those inmates which are costly. County jails are required to provide healthcare for inmates and the medical bills are expensive.

“They have gotten into some really bad medical conditions especially with some of the drugs uses their teeth for instance we don’t pay for them to get fixed but to be removed,” Helms said. “Our medical costs for this fiscal year is gonna be over $300,000 dollars.”

In fact, the jail is advertising for a nurse who will contract with a local doctor, and hopefully, that will cut back on some of the medical costs.

“Her role will be to look after the initial medical intake and screening and care of those inmates.

As of now, Spectracare is handling the mental health portion of healthcare for inmates and they have a nurse from Wiregrass Hospital to check on inmates.

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