Catawba County Jail Seeks to Increase Mental Health Services | Local News

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Catawba County Jail is adding mental health services to meet the growing need for inmate diagnosis and treatment.

The jail is currently working with Partners Health Management and contracts with Catawba Valley Healthcare to provide mental health and addictions programs to inmates, according to information from the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office. The need for those services has become overwhelming, Maj. William Boston said at a Catawba County Board of Commissioners subcommittee meeting on Monday.

“In the community, in the state, in the nation, mental health services are not being funded to the level that we would like the state to be, and that is impacting our county and the jail,” Boston said. “We are working with Partners Health and CVH to address these issues and concerns, but it is beyond their capabilities.”

Catawba Valley Healthcare staff are unable to diagnose all inmates, are not available at all times for mental health screenings and are overloaded with counseling and treatment patients, according to the sheriff’s office.

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To address the growing need, the sheriff’s office asked the board of commissioners to authorize the prison to contract its current medical provider for 24/7 telehealth psychiatry services, Boston said. Boston said it has spoken to other facilities that use telehealth services and found it to be effective.

The additional mental health services will also help ease the burden on prison staff, who care for patients with mental health issues that staff are not equipped to handle, said Deputy County Executive Mary Furtado, during the subcommittee meeting.

The service would cost an additional $47,385 for the remainder of the fiscal year and would be paid for with money the sheriff’s office left unfilled positions this year.

The cost for the next fiscal year would be about $190,000 and would be paid for with money from renting prison beds for federal inmates, Boston said. The prison rents about 50 beds from the federal government for about $100 per bed per day, he said.

The Finance and Personnel Sub-Committee, comprised of Commissioners Barbara Beatty and Austin Allran, recommended approval of the new services. The full board will vote on the matter on April 18.

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