GATESVILLE — Coryell County commissioners on Monday agreed to a contract with Southern Health Partners to provide medical services to county jail inmates for $120,000 a year.

Under the agreement, which starts Dec. 1, the company will provide medical, dental and mental health services to inmates in the jail.

Brent Deweese, a marketing representative for the company, told commissioners the company will try to provide most services in the jail, reducing the need to transport inmates to the local hospital.

“This will be a big advantage for us,” County Judge John Firth said of the contract, adding that about 90 percent of the inmates now taken to the emergency room could be treated at the jail.

Southern Health Partners will hire a doctor and nurse to provide the services, Deweese said, “and we try to hire locally.”

The nurse, who will work 30 hours per week and be on-call 24/7, will be considered a full-time employee with full benefits, Deweese said. The doctor will visit the jail at least once a week and be on call 24/7.

The company will also train the jail staff in first aid and CPR.

Under the terms of the contract, some drugs as well as dental services and some medical services provided outside the jail will be limited by an $18,000 pool for all inmates over 12 months. Expenses above the pool limit will be paid by the county.

The county has budgeted $150,000 for medical services at the jail, leaving an additional $30,000 for expenses that exceed the pool.

Because the contract does not cover Coryell County inmates being housed outside the county, Sheriff Johnny Burks will “need to make some administrative decisions” to avoid transferring inmates who need medical care, Firth said.

The Tennessee-based company has been providing correctional health care for 19 years, Deweese said, serving 200 jails across 13 states.

Contact Tim Orwig at

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