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Cuyahoga County, MetroHealth expand health care services in county jails

The move comes after the Cuyahoga County Jail came under fire for poor conditions.

CLEVELAND — Cuayhoga County and MetroHealth on Thursday announced an expanded health care plan for all county jails.

The move comes in attempt to resurrect jail conditions after the Cuyahoga County Jail received a scathing review following inspection in November. 

According to a news release issued Thursday, MetroHealth will assume health care operations for all county jails and implement a fully staffed program including medical, dental and behavioral health, as well as addiction services. The new $13.6 million initiative will add 32 employees to county jail sites. 

The news release also lists several other improvements:

  • Providing services that meet the accreditation standards of the National Commission on Correctional Health Care
  • Additional staffing levels in the areas of medical, behavioral and addiction services and pharmacy
  • High quality medical staff recruitment and training
  • Adherence to suicide triage and expanded mental health services
  • Expanded Medically Assisted Treatment programming
  • Development of a continuous quality improvement program
  • Unified medical operations at the Euclid and Bedford jails
  • Correctional Officers specifically assigned to the medical unit
  • Development of performance-based metrics to track program outcomes

Health care was previously split between the Cuyahoga County Safety Department and MetroHealth.

U.S. Marshals inspected the Cuyahoga County Jail in November after six inmates died within a four-month span.

RELATED: Family of 8th inmate who died at Cuyahoga County Jail planning to file lawsuit

Jail director Ken Mills abruptly resigned just ahead of the report's release.

Federal inspectors gave the overall facility a rating of "Unsatisfactory/At-Risk" during their three-day visit. 

Jail capacity is 1,765 but inspectors found 2,420 inmates at the time of their visit. Other issues included pregnant inmates sleeping on mats, juveniles housed with adults, food stored near animal droppings and some inmates confined to a single cell for 27 hours. 

Eighty percent of the inmates interviewed expressed concerns about personal treatment, health care, food service, sanitation and overall facility operations. All inmates feared retaliation for speaking out.

RELATED: Cuyahoga County Jail receives scathing review following U.S. Marshals inspection

“I am very pleased to be able to announce this new agreement between the County and MetroHealth,” Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish said in Thursday's news release. “MetroHealth has long been an invaluable partner in our work throughout the County and in the jails. These inmates are in our care and deserve to be kept safe and healthy. This new, comprehensive program will be a model for the country.”

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