Potter County jail proposing changes to Mental Health Care

Potter County jail proposing changes to Mental Health Care

AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - Many Potter County inmates could see a change in mental health care due to a proposal on the Commissioners Court Docket.

The Potter County Sheriffs Office is helping to save the county money by changing the way they see mental health patients. For each mental health case, the Potter County Jail sends to Texas Panhandle Centers it costs them around $185 an hour.

So, the sheriffs office is proposing to keep the exams in house.

"We were paying them to see the ones that were not TPC clients." Says Potter County Sheriff Brian Thomas, "Since then we have gotten another psychiatrist to come on board with us and we are paying him to do that now. So, there is really no since in having both."

The jail will not be completely cutting ties with the TPC. They will still be coming to evaluate their clients who are incarcerated.

However, the TPC has renegotiated their contract with the Potter County Jail and now the county says it is no longer working for them.

"We are the only Panhandle city that has to pay them, no one else has to pay." Says, Potter County Judge Nancy Tanner,  "So, the sheriff has taken it upon himself, which I am happy he did, to renegotiate and not have a contract with them."

The mental health case load for the jail is always high. Every time someone is booked, they are asked a series of state mandated questions which could lead to a mental health evaluation. Although most do not need a psychiatrist, those who do usually need one as quickly as possible.

"This doctor is actually doing our psych evaluations and he does them by Tele-Med and he is pretty quick and gets our inmates in and out fairly quickly, well, not so much out but gets them in and see's them." Says Thomas, "He gets them on medication before they de-escalate in jail. that is the whole purpose of doing this"

The proposal is supposed to be discussed at the Potter County Commissioners Meeting on June 26.

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