Commissioners open to court ruling on prisoner’s hospital bill

    Chase County Commissioners Chuck Vette and Don Weiss, Jr. wasted little time moving through the agenda of the March 14 commissioners’ meeting, which included visits from Chase County Community Hospital CEO Steve Lewis and Chase County Sheriff Kevin Mueller.
    Sheriff Mueller, with help from Chase County Attorney Arlan Wine, discussed the county jail’s policy on accepting inmates with medical issues.
    As the county and the city of Imperial continue to dispute who is responsible for a $436 bill from Chase County Community Hospital, lawyers for the county and city believe now may be the time to settle the issue once and for all.
    The problem stems from a disturbing the peace arrest a city of Imperial officer made in December. The individual appeared intoxicated and the dispatcher at the county jail would not accept the prisoner until he had been medically cleared. The prisoner was taken to the hospital for an examination.
    According to Mueller, there is a list of medical questions, per Nebraska Jail Standards, that must be answered before a prisoner is accepted.
    City of Imperial Attorney Josh Wendell and Wine have exchanged correspondence with neither side backing down. Both are open to moving on to the district court for a ruling,
    Weiss agreed, saying it needs to be clarified either way for the future. He added that now, when the bill is only a matter of hundreds of dollars, would be better than waiting until a larger bill comes in.
     Wine expects an answer in a matter of weeks.
Lewis provides update
    Lewis said the hospital has had a busier patient year than expected, in both patients and budget.
    “We are inching toward that break even thing we’ve been working towards this year,” Lewis said.
    Members from ERDMAN will be back in Imperial with more facility options for the hospital, Lewis said.
    The hospital board has looked at research to compare the cost of replacing the hospital versus remodeling the current facilities. ERDMAN representatives will be returning with a plot analysis to come up with the best and most economical option.
    Lewis is continuing with physician recruiting and plans on being particular on who is hired despite the lack of physicians.
    A couple interested doctors have been turned down due to licensing issues, according to Lewis, who has plans to conduct phone interviews with a couple others.
    Dr. David Younger plans on staying on staff. The hospital also plans on using locum coverage.
    “People want a relationship with their physician, that’s what we are trying to achieve,” Lewis said.
Other business
    The contract with GIS workshop was approved after Chase County Assessor Dottie Bartels got it to guarantee the quality of its pictures and a promise to refly any area the county felt needed to be retaken. Cost of the project is $30,000.
    The next meeting of the Chase County Commissioners will be March 28 at 8 a.m. in the Chase County Courthouse.


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