24/7 Nurses to be provided at the Jail for Inmate Healthcare (View video here)

August 24, 2021
By: Dwayne Page

A new company will be providing nurses around the clock, seven days a week for inmate healthcare at the DeKalb County Jail starting in September.

During Monday night’s monthly meeting, the County Commission adopted a recommendation of the Health, Education & Public Welfare Committee to enter into a contract with Fast Access of Chattanooga to provide 24/7 nurses at the jail. The annual cost will be $377,880, which is an increase of $134,223 above what the county pays under its current contract with Advanced Correctional Healthcare of Franklin for providing a 12 hour, seven day a week nurse for inmate healthcare at the jail. The deal expires August 31.

Since the 2021-22 county budget had already been adopted last week with $243,657 appropriated for 12/7 nursing care for inmates at the jail, the extra funds ($134,223) needed to pay for this new 24/7 service will be allocated through a budget amendment from the county’s fund balance reserves. The County Commission adopted the budget amendment after voting to enter into the contract with Fast Access Monday night.

Although it will cost more on the front end, Sheriff Patrick Ray recommended that the county sign on with this new company to provide 24/7 nursing care at the jail. He formally made the request at the Health, Education & Public Welfare Committee meeting on Monday, August 9 and representatives of three companies including Advanced Correctional Healthcare were also there to present proposals for the county to consider.

The committee voted to recommend that the county commission enter into a contract with Fast Access of Chattanooga to provide 24/7 nurses at the jail at an annual cost of $377,880.

Fast Access’ proposal was the least expensive of the three submitted. Advanced Correctional Healthcare offered to provide 24/7 nursing care for $421,679 including $20,000 pool money while Quality Correctional Healthcare presented a plan for $420,348.

During last Thursday night’s county commission committee meeting of the whole, Sheriff Ray said the liability risk to the county is too great not to have 24/7 nurses at the jail and in the long run it could save the county money.

“Currently during the 12 hour period when the nurse is not there, our correctional officers have to fix the inmates’ medications, draw insulin out of a bottle, take blood pressures, and do assessments on inmates for the doctors. We are going beyond the scope of what our expertise is as correctional officers at the jail. I am very concerned about the liability of our department taking on medical things. To cover the county, myself, and my department we ask for a 24 hour nurse and while it costs more there will be cost savings later in terms of emergency room visits. A lot of ER visits we make are due to inmate chest pains when the nurse is not there because they (prisoners) know we have to send them to the ER. An average ER bill is now probably $5,000 to $7,000 and if there are any extras the bill goes up from there. We can buy an EKG machine at a discounted rate from them (Fast Access) and let them do the EKGs in the jail instead of having to carry them to the emergency room to do them. I think that will save us some money on ER trips. I also called our insurance carrier for liability insurance and it will save us some money on our premiums next year by having 24 hour nurses,” said Sheriff Ray.

Although Sheriff Ray was unable to attend Monday night’s meeting, Chief Deputy Robert Patrick stressed the need for 24 hour nurses at the jail.

“When its time for the nurses to go home, the inmates tend to get sick. Last month we had to send someone to the ER for a tick bite. When the nurse is not there we have no other choice  but to call the doctor and since the doctor is not there to see the inmate  we have to simply send them to the ER because our staff is not medically trained to assess an individual correctly, take blood pressures or anything like that and I feel you are putting the county at a great liability by asking a young adult or somebody  who does not have training in the medical field to make those decisions,” he said.

Before the vote Monday night First District Commissioner Julie Young recommended that going forward this and any other contract changes be made prior to the budget for the year is finalized so the costs are known and accounted for without having to approve a budget amendment later.

Dr. Denise Dingle Appointed County Medical Examiner (View video of county commission meeting here)

August 24, 2021
By: Dwayne Page

Dr. Denise Dingle is the new DeKalb County Medical Examiner.

She has been appointed by County Mayor Tim Stribling to take over the position which was held for many years by Dr. J.C. Wall, who passed away recently.

“Dr. J.C. Wall passed away July 31. He was the DeKalb County Medical Examiner for years but he was also my friend and neighbor. He was a friend to a lot of people. We send our condolences to his wife Sandra and Dr. Wall’s family. I ask that you continue to lift them up in prayer,” said Stribling during Monday night’s monthly county commission meeting.

The term of Medical Examiner is for five years through August 23, 2026. Dr. Dingle has agreed to accept the position. The county commission Monday night confirmed the appointment.

COVID Surging Again in DeKalb County

August 23, 2021
By: Dwayne Page

COVID is surging again in DeKalb County!

DeKalb County had 212 active COVID-19 cases Monday, according to the Tennessee Department of Health. That’s 119 more than 10 days ago on Friday, August 13. Sixteen new cases were recorded in DeKalb County on Monday alone.

At last report a total of 7,370 people (35.9%) have received at least one dose of COVID vaccine and 6,204 (30.5%) are fully vaccinated in DeKalb County.

There have been 57 deaths in DeKalb County since the pandemic began in March 2020 and 58 have been hospitalized.

Over the last seven days, (August 16 – 22) DeKalb County had a case count of 148 for a daily case rate of 103.2 per 100,000 residents.

For the most recent 14 days, (August 9-22) DeKalb County’s case count was 224 for a daily case rate of 78.1 per 100,000 residents.

For the 14 days prior (July 26 to August 8), the case count was 67 for a daily case rate of 23.4 per 100, 000 residents.

From March 5, 2020 to August 22, 2021, DeKalb County has had a total of 3,187 confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 for a daily case rate of 29.1 per 100,000 residents.

Over the last 7 days DeKalb County has averaged 59.6 tests per day (290.7 tests per 100,000 residents) and over the last 7 days the average percent positive was 19.4 %.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Monday issued full authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for individuals age 16 and up. The vaccine remains under emergency use authorization (EUA) for those age 12-15 years and for the administration of the third dose option for individuals who are moderately or severely immunocompromised.

The full licensed approval from the FDA is given after more than 9 months of data review and continued case study. The Pfizer vaccine has been available in Tennessee since December 2020 with approximately 3.4 million Pfizer doses administered to date.

The Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) wants to remind Tennesseans the COVID-19 vaccines are our best defense in preventing the continued spread of the virus. Vaccination rates across the state have increased over the last month as the state experiences a surge in COVID-19 cases due to the highly contagious Delta variant. In particular, younger Tennesseans are choosing to receive the vaccine with the highest rate of increases in the 12-15 age group and the 16-20 age group.

Additional guidance from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) is expected later this week, and the department encourages providers to review that guidance once released. TDH will adhere to ACIP guidance regarding the administration of the vaccine. In addition, we are taking the necessary steps at our county health departments in anticipation of continued demand.

Visit to find a vaccine site offering the Pfizer vaccine. In addition, local health departments across the state will be administering the COVID-19 vaccine with no appointment necessary.

Individuals seeking more information on the COVID-19 vaccines can visit or to schedule an appointment with a local vaccine provider.

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