Riley County sees dramatic spike in inmate medical expenses

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Riley County Jail (RCPD courtesy image)

The Riley County Jail saw its inmate medical expenses increase dramatically over this year.

Riley County Clerk Rich Vargo mentioned at Monday’s Riley County Commission meeting that inmate medical expenses are over $36,000 so far this year, an increase of more than 1,600 percent.

Commissioner John Ford spoke with KMAN Tuesday saying this was due to one particular inmate with some health concerns.

“It is statutorily required and it is a county only expense that gets taken care of while he’s in custody in Riley County. That’s a large increase, large enough that it’s probably going to outdo the pool that we have set aside for those expenses,” Ford said.

To put it in perspective, last year at this point, Riley County had spent just over $2,000 in inmate medical expenses. In past years, the county has had similar situations with inmates arise. Other times, they don’t really have any issues so it can be a hit or miss situation.

“Court cases here particularly in the last 12 to 15 years have dictated that those are taken care of by whoever is statutorily responsible for the incarceration. Even if it is a transfer, we would still be required to take care of (those expenses) because they are physically in custody here,” Ford said.

Ford anticipates the county may have to dip into other county funds to help offset those costs.

It was also noted Monday that Riley County Human Resource Manager and Deputy Clerk Cindy Volanti was recently tapped by Gov. Laura Kelly to serve on the Workers Compensation and Employment Security Boards Nominating Committee. Vargo recognized this appointment during Monday’s Riley County commission meeting.

“Cindy will be a great appointee on it because she understands workers compensation from the ground up. It’s really nice to that our state government is getting people who understand it because it is a very tricky issue,” Vargo said.

Volanti says she’s looking forward to the new appointment.

“Representing Riley County in this is quite the honor. I know Riley County does a very good job of encouraging staff to get involved with their associations,” Volanti.

She thanked Vargo for the support through the process. Volanti says she was recognized by the state’s human resource organization.

In other business Monday:

September was proclaimed as National Preparedness Month by Riley County Commission Chair Ron Wells.

The 2019 theme is “prepared not scared.” It encourages the public to save early for disaster causes, teaching the youth to be prepared and getting involved in the community. The proclamation goes on to say the more people who are prepared, the quicker the community will recover. Emergency Management, EMS, and the Health Department are all part of this month. Green says the health department will have social media posts about preparedness throughout the month.

“Just bringing to light the floods in Riley County earlier this summer and even the rain that we’ve had recently, in addition to the Labor Day flood last year. These are things that are not going away and are things we need to be prepared for,” Green said.

The health department will have a focus of having a preparedness kit during their social media posts.

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