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Inmate Population Down, Medical Evals Up, Delay in Meds Questioned

HERNANDO – Getting “locked up” is never a joyful experience, especially for someone who is not used to the ordeal and never seen the inside of a jail. Hollywood portrays jailhouse life as a place where inmates sleep with one eye open, and are always looking over their shoulders for the unexpected attack.

To some extent that is true, even in our own County Jail but it’s the job of the Hernando County Sherriff’s Office Detention Deputies to make sure inmates are not only secure, but that they remain healthy and safe.

The Sheriff’s Office just released an annual review of the Medical Section for the jail, showing statistics on the number of inmates treated from 2013-2014.

According to that report, the average population dropped from 522 to 483 and within that population there were 5,825 Sick Call requests (down from 6,284) and 677 visits to the in-house doctor (down from 762).

Kristine J. DeKany, Medical Director of the Hernando County Detention Center, said “We provide medical, dental, and mental health services pursuant to the requirements of Florida Model Jail Standards (FMJS) and the Florida Corrections Accreditation Commission (FCAC),” she said. “We are mandated to provide medical care that meets community standards of care as well as those minimum standards of FMJS and those of our state FCAC accreditation.”

DeKany noted these standards dictate health care requirements such as all inmates having a history and physical within 14 days of admission, having a sick call procedure in place whereby an inmate can solicit care, providing dental care and prenatal care, and utilizing community providers as needed to mention a few.

There have been a few complaints regarding the quality of care some inmates have received. Most of those were regarding length of time it takes to receive medical care inside the facility.

For some inmates, like 84-year-old Sidney Bitman of Hernando Beach, waiting 14-days is not an option, when certain medications are required to be taken without interruption.

You may remember Mr. Bitman from a recent RNRF report; Bitman was jailed for violating a court ordered injunction and spent 3 days behind bars, without his required medication (ORIGINAL REPORT).

Bitman says, most of his medications are supposed to be taken every day, and per Doctor’s orders, he is not supposed to suddenly stop taking them or it could result in medical complications. Bitman complained to medical staff, but he was denied access for 3 days. Bitman was finally released after 4 days behind bars.

Another former inmate, who wished to remain anonymous, says he suffered from PTSD, due to serving in the armed forces. He was denied medications, prescribed to help with his mental health issues for several weeks. When he complained, they told him he could be placed in “lock-down” if he felt he could not coexist with other inmates. Eventually a family member contacted Veterans Affairs and the inmate received his medications by the next day.

According to the report, there were 2,850 mental health evaluations, (Up from 2,747 in 2013).

There were also increases in the number of Emergency Room Visits, with 61 visits and 33 admissions (Up from 56, and 20 admissions). The most shocking statistic was the number of pregnancies increasing from just 15 in 2013 to 58 the following year.

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