Local MHMR Official Disputes Jail Medication Report

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BELL COUNTY (October 25, 2013) In in an e-mail sent Friday to board members and Bell County officials, the executive director of Central Counties MHMR took issue with a report that some county jail inmates who are clients of the center were late in getting their medication this week, which ordinarily comes from the center, because officials said the county had to purchase it.

On Thursday Bell County Jail Health Services Administrator Vickie Colbert said the center, which provides mental health services to residents of Bell, Coryell, Lampasas, Milam and Hamilton Counties, told her it would not be able to deliver the medication for its jailed clients.

Colbert said when she tried to find out why the medications weren't going to be delivered, she was not given a clear answer.

A clinic adjacent to the MHMR center normally prescribes prescription medications.

"Now that cost will have to be picked up by the local taxpayers," Bell County Sheriff Eddy Lange said Thursday.

About 40 percent of the inmates in the jail are taking medication for mental health issues and about 20 percent are MHMR clients, Colbert said.

The center’s executive director, Eldon Tietje, did not respond to calls and e-mails Thursday, but in an e-mail to board members and county officials Friday he said the issue involved a single client who had qualified for 76 days of medication under the center’s contract with the Texas Correctional Office on Offenders with Medical or Mental Impairments.

The inmate, who was sent to a state hospital for treatment and then returned to the jail, had been held for longer than the period covered by the contract, Tietje said in the e-mail.

“Our staff member left a note with the infirmary that our center could no longer provide this inmate's psychotropic medication. To the best of our knowledge at this time, this note seemingly is what started this whole story about our center no longer being able to provide medications for our consumers who wind up in the Bell County Jail. We have no (knowledge) about how this situation was conveyed to the local media,” the e-mail said.

“If we were holding medicines for one of our consumers who got arrested and placed in the Bell County Jail, we would always bring that remaining medication to the Jail to be administered to the inmate by their staff. We intend to continue this practice,” the e-mail said.

Tietje told board members during a meeting Tuesday night that a recent state visit to the facility addressed medication procedures, but neither the center nor the state has released any details about the issue.

On Wednesday Chris Van Deusen with the Texas Department of Health Services Press Office confirmed only that there was an on-site visit on Sept. 24 that was related to a complaint stemming from the dispensing of medication.

Van Deusen said the center was working with the state to fix some issues, but said the case was not closed.

Tietje told the board after the medical director left earlier this year, prescribers continued to manage medications and were writing the labels, which they were authorized to do.

But he also said the state had recommendations for what the facility needed to do about the management of certain medications.

"We followed those recommendations and had them completed in the time frame that was requested by the Department of State Health Services, the center also recognized that having our prescribing staff do this medication management is not a very efficient use of very expensive staff time," Tietje said.

Tietje said Tuesday center was working to find a pharmacy network management company to work with to serve clients and said he hoped to have that in place by December.