I-Team report on ambulance delays sparks questions from county council

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CLEVELAND (WJW)– The Cuyahoga County Council Public Safety Committee is now asking hard questions after a FOX 8 I-Team report revealed more ambulances tied up taking jail inmates to the hospital when they could be responding to 911 calls from people like you.

Cleveland EMS already struggles to handle citizen 911 calls. Now, the number of inmates taken to the ER has tripled. The County Council Safety Committee was stunned to hear that. Yet, no clear explanation for it.

Sheriff David Schilling said he sees a spike when there’s no jail doctor working.

“That’s when we have more calls for inmates taken to the hospital during the weekends and during the nighttime hours,” Schilling said.

So, do all those inmates really need to get hauled out of the jail by ambulance and rushed to the hospital? MetroHealth Medical Center said the most common medical reasons for the calls are injuries from assaults, chest pains, falls and mental health issues.

County council is also asking about the soaring cost to taxpayers. You pay for all of the medical care for all of those inmates taken to the hospital. Plus the county is spending a skyrocketing amount of money to have deputies stand guard with inmates at the hospital.

“We’ve got to get to the bottom of this,” said Public Safety Committee Chairman Michael Gallagher. “It looks like we’re losing a lot of money. And it’s gotta make sense.”

Council members and others wonder if the jail is sending so many inmates to the hospital because the jail made headlines for a series of inmate deaths.

MetroHealth Medical Center said it reviews all inmate cases to make sure those prisoners should have been sent to the ER. But through it all, this affects your wallet and your safety.

We also recently showed you the city of Cleveland recently exchanged piles of emails with the county over the same issues.

Meantime, the I-Team filed new requests to find out more about how much this is costing you and affecting you. County council is also now asking some of the same follow-up questions.

Expect another hearing soon.

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