LOWNDES COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI) – The Lowndes County Adult Detention Center is one of the few county jails in the area with a medical department inside the facility.
A registered nurse, paramedic, and support clerk make up the three member medical staff.
On average, 200 inmates are housed here and the jail’s medical department sees all of them.
They treat anywhere from three to thirty inmates a day and care for a range of medical needs.
Registered nurse Sarah Rickert has been with the Lowndes County Adult Detention Center’s medical department for two decades.
She says her job is a calling.
“It’s who I take care of, it’s the population that I love and so that’s their nurse and I don’t know what I’ll do when I leave.”
The nurse says her job isn’t the typical setting most nurses want to work in, for a number of reasons, ranging from pay to safety concerns.
“There’s an officer with them at all times and they don’t, if I feel like I am unsafe, I will call backup, but in 21 years, I can probably count on one hand how many times that’s actually happened.”
The medical department sees everything from colds, to dialysis patients.
“We have medication that we do have for each person and they get their blood pressure medication, they get their insulin, whatever needed medications, psychiatric medications, they get that,” says Rickert.
Jail Administrator Ryan Rickert says healthcare is one of the highest line items in the jail’s budget and having their own medical department makes better financial sense.
“As far as manpower goes, transporting them out, and then having to deal with the emergency bills versus having the contract, I would imagine it’s a significant difference.”
Rickert says while the system works for Lowndes County, it may not work everywhere.
“Most of it is budgetary issues, not having the staff, not having people with a desire to work in a jail setting. That makes it difficult to hire nurses and to hire medical staff.”
Rickert also says inmate medical expenses cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
The department has a doctor that comes once a week if he is needed.