I-Team: Staggering cost you pay to send inmates to the hospital

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The FOX 8 I-Team has found more and more of your tax money getting spent on sending local jail inmates to the hospital and having deputies sit there with them on guard.

Records show the Cuyahoga County Jail is sending so many inmates to the hospital, the county now spends up to $100,000 a month to pay for hospital transports.

Plus, every month now, the county is spending $60,000-$80,000 to guard prisoners at the hospital.

The number of Cuyahoga County Jail inmates sent to the ER has nearly tripled.

All of this troubling to Fay Harris, a local activist who watches county spending. Harris said, “And if they’re spending that kind of money every month, it needs to be looked into.” She added, “I’m not against inmates getting medical attention. They do deserve to get it. But I do think there’s some oversight Cuyahoga County Council needs to look into.”

Think about it. Jailers can’t just send an inmate away in an ambulance, have him dropped off at the ER, and then forget about him. When a prisoner gets brought to the hospital to get checked out, two deputies get assigned to keep watch. When an inmate gets admitted to the hospital, the county makes sure one deputy is standing guard 24-7.

The I-Team has also revealed internal emails showing ambulance crews tied up on long delays handling inmates. When that happens, paramedics are not free to answer your 911 call.

The jail has been under a spotlight for horrific conditions and inmate deaths. Is the jail staff overreacting? Sending everyone to the ER?

County leaders recently started discussing it at a county council hearing.

Sheriff David Schilling said, “Not having a medical background, I don’t know what it's gonna take to correct that.” But even the sheriff questioned if all of those inmates actually need to go to the hospital in an ambulance. He wondered if more could be treated in the jail by the medical staff.

Meantime, the sheriff’s department can barely keep up with what’s happening. Supervisors are constantly looking for deputies willing to work more overtime to keep up with the hospital guard details and other operations.

For now, ambulance runs from the jail are piling up, and so are the hours for deputies standing guard at the hospital.

And the cost to taxpayers keeps soaring.

Fay Harris said, “I think there could be some negligence again. Definitely could be some waste.”

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