I think I have a good grip on what the problems at the jail are. The county commission inquiry was actually really insightful.
We’ll start with Wellpath. Their people testified that they don’t listen to people’s personal doctors. They say a person’s real doctor’s opinion is worth nothing more than a “grain of salt.” They went on to say that while a person might need a drug, like an anxiety medication, on the outside, they might not need that anxiety med on the inside. (Because jail is less stressful?) So Wellpath sees people in the jail to decide that they don’t really need their medications. So that saves the county money and boosts profits. So Wellpath got up there and literally said they know better than anyone’s real doctors. So they got up and said, out loud, WDGAF. Can we find anyone that GAF? That would be a start.
Then, Sheriff Bensley comes along. He says that they don’t oversee Wellpath at all. Nevermind that it’s his jail. He’s not a medical professional, so if Wellpath doesn’t do their job, he doesn’t know or care. I’m paraphrasing, but not by much. Bensley implies that he doesn’t even care: “People may not want to hear this, but we operate a jail…That’s our responsibility. We’re not a hospital. We’re not a mental health facility.” (You kinda are, though. When someone is incarcerated, they can’t go to their own doctor. So you are being their doctor. They have to go to your doctor because you’re insisting on it. Sorry, but you are.)
It’s pretty obvious what’s happening – Wellpath is operating more like Illpath by cutting corners and ignoring doctors who have treatment histories with various inmates. Sheriff Bensley doesn’t want to know or care. It’s pretty obvious that one, we’re here, and two, that’s why we’re here. The only question is what the commissioners, or the voters, are going to do about it.
Another gem from Bensley was when he said that former Jail Captain Todd Ritter’s behavior didn’t impact Ritter’s job performance. Knowing that you get special favors for hanky panky with the jail captain in the basement of a government building isn’t going to screw with law and order in the jail? In Grand Traverse County, misconduct is irrelevant. It’s called misconduct for a reason.
Bensley just won’t accept the settled law that says deliberate indifference to serious medical needs is cruel and unusual punishment. Until he does, and until the county makes changes, they’re opening themselves up to legal liability. But hey, at least the commission has managed to bring us the sexual harassment ethics police, and they’re all over canning the opening prayer. So at least they’re getting the big stuff done.