The Victoria County Jail may soon transition away from having outsourced medical care from the University of Texas Medical Branch and bring medical services back in-house.
The decision to outsource medical care was made in effort to better address the needs of inmates with mental illnesses, said County Judge Ben Zeller. Now, a local psychiatrist is willing to work at the jail, meaning those same needs can be met without the outsourced care.
Victoria County commissioners will discuss the decision to end the contract and take action on the matter Monday.
“What makes this a feasible and good plan is this new psychiatrist in town who is willing to work for us and provide these services we need, keeping operations closer to home,” Zeller said.
In 2016, commissioners agreed to outsource most of the jail’s health needs to UTMB, which runs medical care in more than 100 jails in Texas around the state. The first contract between UTMB and the county jail began in early 2017.
Commissioners voted in February to renew UTMB’s contract with an increased price, which raised the cost of services from $1,070,171 a year to $1,325,000.
Zeller said ending the contract and transitioning to in-house care will save about $250,000 annually, essentially avoiding the cost of UTMB’s contract increase.
“By bringing care back in-house, we can provide an even better service at a lower cost,” Zeller said, adding that the plan to end the contract has been discussed with UTMB and “there’s no pulling the rug out from under them happening here.”
Dr. John McNeill, the jail’s medical director, as well as representatives from the Victoria County Sherriff’s Office, will be present Monday to participate in the conversation, Zeller said.
Also Monday, commissioners will discuss the process and timeline for appointing a new constable in Precinct 4, which comes after Kyle Dalton announced he would leave the position in June, more than one year early.