FREMONT – Dodge County’s budget for the medical expenses under the Corrections Department has already gone over budget.
According to Dodge County Supervisor Rob George they are already approximately $660 over their $140,000 budget for the department’s medical costs. A few large claims have come to the county in the last few months in regards to certain inmates and their medical needs.
One of the large claims was in regards to an inmate who attempted suicide in Saunders County Jail and was life flighted to Omaha, where he subsequently died. The bill to life flight the inmate was $45,000, which County Attorney Oliver Glass was able to negotiate down to $33,000.63. Glass says there are certain cases where an inmate with extensive medical needs can be released on a bond, but for other criminals it can be too risky.
“If you’re in on certain crimes I can usually talk the judge into letting them out on what we call and OR Bond,” said Glass. “But sometime you have individuals in jail for crimes like armed robbery, or child sex assaults, or attempted murder. And those individuals, you can’t just really agree to lower a bond on them because they’re flight risks and they’re dangerous.”
Glass says they have a few inmates that require special medical attention frequently but that there’s nothing they can do.
“We have a woman who is serving a year in county jail. However, Saunders County had to send her to the Women’s Prison Facility in York, Nebraska for the year because they weren’t medically equipped to deal with all of her health issues,” explained Glass. “So she’s serving her time in York. And of course she, unfortunately, has to go to the York General Hospital quite a bit. And we’ve had a lot of bills on her. There’s nothing I can do about that because she’s serving a sentence.”
Glass adds he will continue to negotiate any large claims down as far as he can to help the budget. The other option to help the medical costs budget would have to come from the county’s finance committee.
“The other part of it will be the finance committee’s decision to move some funds around,” said Glass. “I don’t know that the overall prisoner situation is going to get any better. I think it’s going to ebb and flow. I think there’s going to be years or quarters where you don’t have as much medical expenses, and there’s going to be years where you have a lot. Nobody can really tell.”
The jail population for Dodge County is generally between 80-90 inmates. Last year the medical budget was $120,000 and the county reported being approximately $19,000 under budget.