DESOTO COUNTY, MS (abc24.com) - DeSoto County is cutting the cost of jailhouse medical care.
Inmates used to be taken to the hospital when they needed attention. It was costly and potentially dangerous. The sheriff's department changed that in January. They've found a way to bring the hospital to the jail.
"We have fully outfitted the jail to be able to handle broken bones, abscesses, lacerations, those kinds of things," says Dr. Kenneth Thompson.
Before this year, those would all have required a trip to the emergency room and treatment by Dr. Thompson - paid by taxpayers.
"I'd been the SWAT team physician for three years," Dr. Thompson says. In addition to that, he works in Baptist DeSoto's ER.
He was already treating many DeSoto inmates. The doctor says it was a natural fit to take over their care at the jail.
"We try to identify problems while they're small problems and keep them from getting to be big problems," he tells abc24.com. "If we can take care of a laceration or a broken bone or dislocation in jail, we then get to avoid the trip up the road to the emergency department."
"It's a lot more safe and there's a secure environment," says DeSoto County supervisor Mark Gardner.
The county is eliminating safety risks, offering more health care and saving money doing it.
"Projections are this year to save about $300,000," Gardner says.
"The nurses and administration that we have all are working very hard as a team to be good stewards of the county's money," adds Dr. Thompson. He's on call 24/7.
"Last week I was at top of the Empire State Building taking a phone call about patient at the jail." He says it can make for long days, but "seeing how all this hard work is paying off, there's no question it's been worth it."