Victoria County Courthouse

Victoria County commissioners meet in the Victoria County Courthouse, 115 N. Bridge St.

The medical provider that offers health care to detainees in the Victoria County Jail is raising its prices, and county commissioners will discuss the price increase at their meeting Monday.

In 2016, commissioners agreed to outsource most of the jail’s health needs to the University of Texas Medical Branch, which runs medical care in more than 100 jails in Texas, according to its website. That contract was for $1,070,171 a year, according to the Advocate’s archives. If the county wants to continue with UTMB, that yearly price will increase to $1,325,000, according to a memo.

In 2016, officials estimated that switching to a third-party medical provider would save the county money in the long run.

Commissioners will discuss the jail’s health provider as well as overall conditions at the facility at Monday’s meeting. Elected officials will also review the county’s reply to the Texas Commission on Jail Standards, which recently concluded that the county jail did not meet state health and safety standards because of a mold issue in the facility. The state inspector who reviewed the jail found that “the mold present is a serious health and safety concern for both the inmates and the staff.”

In a letter responding to the findings, County Judge Zeller said a complete fix for the county’s mold problem would require additional renovation in the jail, a process that will likely take months to complete. Zeller also noted that a December test of the jail’s air quality found it acceptable.

A mold assessment consultant tested the air quality in the jail Tuesday and deemed it “acceptable,” Zeller said.

The consultant who tested the facility found “no significant elevated levels of individual fungal spores were identified in relation to the outside air,” according to a copy of his findings.

Commissioners are also scheduled to enter closed session Monday to consult with the county’s attorney and discuss Health Department personnel. The county is beginning its search to replace Derrick Neal, the current department head, who will leave the post for a new position later this month.

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Ciara McCarthy covers local government for the Victoria Advocate as a Report for America corps member. You can reach her at cmccarthy@vicad.com or at 580-6597 or on Twitter at @mccarthy_ciara.

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Health Reporter

Ciara McCarthy covers public health and health care for the Advocate as a Report for America corps member. Questions, tips, or ideas? Please get in touch: cmccarthy@vicad.com or call 361-580-6597.

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