Saturday, September 3, 2016
Yuba County says jail staffing grand jury recommends isn’t needed
A need for increased medical services for inmates in the Yuba County Jail was again a topic of a grand jury report, which cited two attempted suicides by inmates within the facility.
Jurors recommended in their 2015-2016 report that the sheriff apply to the Board of Supervisors to fund a full-time psychiatrist to work on mental health treatment and care plans and a full-time medical doctor to decrease the time it takes for inmates to be seen by a doctor or a nurse.
Supervisors and Sheriff Steven Durfor said the additional positions are not needed.
Jurors who investigated the jail found mental health care being provided to inmates and the number and quality of its medical personnel had considerably improved. Grand juries in the previous two years had recommended increased medical staff at the jail.
The need for more services was realized after the jail population increased and the average length of inmates' stays lengthened as a result of public safety realignment, which leaves some lower-offense felony convicts in county jails, instead of going into the state prison system.
Two crisis counselors, one part-time and one full-time; two part-time psychiatrists - one of whom is available through teleconference; and a full-time forensic mental health therapist are available to inmates, providing about 100 hours of non-emergency mental health care, the report says. Correctional officers now receive training in suicide prevention and a mental health first aid course. In addition, the county was awarded a $20 million grant for a building that will include room for additional counseling and medical beds.
Based on national estimates that 64 percent of jail inmates have mental health problems, that means the about 200 inmates suffering with mental health illness have access to less than 30 minutes of non-emergency one-on-one counseling or treatment.
Jurors learned that two inmates attempted to hang themselves and were interrupted by other inmates. Both people who made the attempts had allegedly asked for mental therapy, yet none was offered.
The Yuba County Sheriff's Department confirmed that two attempted hangings occurred and that inmates intervened, one in October 2014 and the other in January 2015. However, the department stated that allegations that the inmates had asked for mental therapy and were denied are "not accurate" and the department "disagree(s) with that statement."
Grand jurors learned that the doctor in the jail tried to see an inmate within 48 hours of an inmates' request. The doctor and nurse combined see 60-80 patients a week, and "it can be difficult for an inmate to get an appointment with the doctor which could cause a delay in treatment," the report says.
They also interviewed an ex-inmate who said they were misdiagnosed.
In his response to the grand jury, Durfor said their recommendations for increased medical staff will not be implemented because the department's internal and external reviews do not suggest the need for a full-time psychiatrist or full-time physician.
Supervisors responded that they are aware through discussions with the sheriff and Yuba-Sutter Behavioral Health that services are provided to inmates "at an appropriate level through their partnership and collaborative approach."
August 31, 2016
By Monica Vaughan