Contra Costa County Jails To Implement Medication-Dispensing Machines To Reduce Costs
Contra Costa County has agreed to lease three machines that will dispense medications to the roughly 1,900 inmates in the Martinez and Richmond jails and juvenile hall, the Oakland Tribune reports.
According to Miles Kramer, director of detention health services, the county can reduce costs and medical errors by packaging inmates' medications individually. He said that "for each case [of medication] that doesn't get given to an inmate, it can be redispensed," adding, "It eliminates waste almost entirely."
Each medication package has an identifying bar code to ensure accurate delivery. Each machine will cost $5,000 per month to lease, according to the Times.
William Walker, director of health services for the county, said the machines are part of an effort to reduce spending following recent budget cuts. "We're looking to continue to provide a level of service with a lower cost," he said.
Kramer said the machines will allow medical staff to focus more on providing care and spend less time distributing medications. "The effort can be put back into health care instead of taking pills out of bottles," Kramer said.
The dispensers will be operational within the next few months.
According to the Times, the machines also will result in reduced hours for nurses and pharmacists.
Ronald Katz -- supervising business agent for Public Employees Union Local 1, which represents licensed vocational nurses and pharmacists -- said he has not yet scheduled a meeting with county officials to discuss possible staffing reductions (Johnson, Oakland Tribune, 3/28).