Commentary - A response to jail contract storyRegarding the article, “Local doctor vies for county jail contract,” MEnD Correctional Care would like the community of Alexandria to know that we make every effort to invest fully in the communities we serve. Many of our company practices are generated with the county taxpayer in mind.
By Todd Leonard, MD, president of MEnD Correctional Care, Rogers, MN
Regarding the article, “Local doctor vies for county jail contract,” MEnD Correctional Care would like the community of Alexandria to know that we make every effort to invest fully in the communities we serve. Many of our company practices are generated with the county taxpayer in mind.
While it may be easy to look at a base contract amount and feel like we are a slightly more expensive option for the county, there is a real total cost savings to the taxpayer when our services are put into place. One quick example illustrates just one of the ways we save taxpayer dollars with our services.
We are able to save Douglas County countless thousands of dollars when avoiding unnecessary ER visits for inmates. Not only do we save the enormous cost of direct ER services, but also save the cost of transportation and deputy time for the trip. Instead, we are able to care for many urgent issues in-house such as musculoskeletal injuries or lacerations, which provide improved continuity of care while affording real taxpayer savings. Counties who have used our services, including Douglas County, have seen a significant drop in their outside appointment costs, overtime salary costs for jail employees, and pharmaceutical costs. We estimate that between January 1, 2011 and September 30, 2011 the jail nurse, physician, and mental health therapist visits have addressed over 1,600 medical issues in-house.
Based on the hundreds of issues addressed by our jail physician during that time period, we have saved Douglas County approximately $70,000 in clinical medical costs alone. Furthermore, our on-call service was used well over 200 times during this period and often eliminates those unnecessary trips to the ER already mentioned. Additionally, to address the concerns “that the money leaves the community and never comes back,” we would like to remind Alexandria residents that while our corporate office is based out of Rogers, MN (which still represents state tax dollars from our company) our nurse lives in your community. Her salary is spent in your community, as is our other staff’s salaries including our physician when we provide services there, or when our staff attend functions such as the annual Minnesota Sheriff’s Association Conference held at Arrowwood Resort.
We also work with your local pharmacy, Thrifty White, and if we need to send out inmates for specialty care, like dental appointments or specialized testing, we send those inmates to your local community clinics and facilities.
Unfortunately we were uninformed of the public debate that would take place at the county commissioners’ meeting recently, and we certainly would’ve explained how our services work for the county if we would’ve had the chance. Ultimately, we are here to serve Douglas County and we believe that our current relationship with Douglas County Jail has not only been beneficial for the jail, but also for all county taxpayers.