Grant to add nurse at jail

Tuesday, August 23, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 9:17 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

Boone Hospital Center Trustees decided Monday to renew grant money to pay for an additional nurse at the Boone County Jail.

The grant of $150,000, spread evenly over two years, will pay for a third registered nurse to treat inmates at the jail rather than at area hospitals. Because Missouri counties are not required to pay medical expenses for inmates, hospitals often end up paying inmates’ treatment costs.

“The patient we don’t see is a savings,” said BHC Chief Executive Officer Mike Shirk.

The grant replaces a previous two-year grant that will expire in March 2006.

“We are trying to have more coverage in the jail, more nurses,” said Heidi Fussner, Boone County Jail medical coordinator,who also serves as one of the jail’s two registered nurses. “If you have more nurses in the jail for a longer period of time during the day, the emergent things that come up can be triaged by a nurse on the facility and most things can be handled on site instead of sending them out to different places for evaluations.”

Fussner and a second nurse work up to a combined 70 hours a week and see up to 30 patients a day. A third nurse would lighten the workload, Fussner said.

The nurse position has been filled twice in the past two years, but is currently vacant. Additional funding for sign-on and retention bonuses also approved by the trustees could create an incentive for a candidate to stay the full two years.

Fussner said nurse care and additonal medical equipment helped reduce the number of emergencyroom visits made by inmmates from 306 visits per year in 2004 to 113 through July 2005.

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