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Angel Medical takes over mental patient supervision

medicalMacon County Sheriff Robbie Holland has found some recent budget relief since Angel Medical Center took over supervising mental health patients that are brought in for evaluation.

Over the last several years, the sheriff’s office has been spending more and more time and money on transporting and monitoring involuntary commitments. Officers would transport patients to Angel for evaluation and if the patient needed treatment, an officer would transport the patient to wherever a bed was available — it could be one county over or it could be on the other side of the state. 

In 2014 alone, Macon County Sheriff’s Office spent 8,299 hours and $253,625 on involuntary committals. However, Angel Medical and the sheriff’s office have found a solution that will keep patients safe and keep officers at the jail or on patrol.

“Hundreds if not thousands of man hours we were spending with involuntary commitments at the hospital can be better utilized … and officers can maintain their duties on the road,” Holland said. 

Sonya Greck, senior vice president of Behavioral Health & Safety Net Services at Mission Health, said Angel Medical Center began in March using trained sitters — and even video monitoring in certain cases — to observe and document the status of involuntary commitment patients in the emergency room for the purpose of providing a safer environment. 

“This process has relieved Macon County law enforcement officers from routine accompaniment with involuntary patients for the duration of their stay in Angel Medical Center Emergency Department,” Greck said. “Such protocols are commonly used in acute care hospital settings and are standard across Mission Health System.”

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Apparently all Mission Health affiliated hospitals take on monitoring responsibilities, but Holland wasn’t comfortable handing over that law enforcement duty until he knew for sure it would be a secure process. When Angel hired a security company in March, Holland finally felt comfortable relinquishing it to the hospital.

“I felt there was a safety issue there but they started a security company in the hospital and that relieved a lot of my concerns,” he said. “It’s worked out good so far. We haven’t had any major instances. Any time they call us to assist with anything we’re right there.”

The change is estimated to save the sheriff’ office almost $200,000 a year, according to Macon County Manager Derek Roland. Roland is recommending that money go toward making four part-time detention center officers into full-time employees in the 2015-16 budget. 

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