County contracts medical services for juvenile center

Unable to fill two licensed vocational nurse (LVN) positions at the Hays County Juvenile Detention Center caused county leaders to eliminate the positions entirely and contract services to a private company.

With the help of Wellpath, LLC, the county will work with the company to provide an LVN, registered nurse (RN) and physician to administer healthcare services to the population at the facility.

The action to enter an agreement with Wellpath and eliminate the two LVN positions was unanimously approved by the Hays County Commissioners Court on July 2.

Hays County Juvenile Detention Center Administrator Brett Littlejohn said the facility has never had an LVN, RN and physician as part of the program.

“It’s something we’ve never really had much of, and the reason I am asking of this is that we’re not able to fill the positions in the nursing staff,” Littlejohn said. “It’s a risk and liability to the county because I can’t get these positions filled.” 

Littlejohn said the agreement could potentially alleviate expenses to the county by having a nurse and doctor available to assist during emergencies.

Wellpath will provide 16-hours of nursing a day and three hours a week for a doctor to the facility.

It’s unknown as of press time how much the agreement will cost the county. According to the company’s website, Wellpath provides medical and behavioral health care to jails, prisons, inpatient and residential treatment facilities.

“It’s not that we’re eliminating the services of the nurses, but we’re providing those services through a nurse, physician and LVN,” said Hays County Precinct 1 Commissioner Debbie Ingalsbe.

County Judge Ruben Becerra said the county is not eroding any components of the facility, but re-tooling the medical component to provide better services.

“it seems like a very good move forward so we can fill a long-standing void that’s just been hard for the county to staff…,” Becerra said.

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