The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on May 14, 1997 · Page 9
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 9

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Wednesday, May 14, 1997
Page 9
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WEDNESDAY MAY 14, 1997 THE SALINA JOURNAL Great Plains VIEWPOINTS / B2 ALMANAC / B3 FUN / B4 B V SALINE COUNTY COMMISSION Sedgwick County likes contracted inmate care Saline County agrees to seek bids for inmate medical care to halt fluctuating costs By SHARON MONTAGUE Tlie Salina Journal Before Sedgwick County began contracting for medical services in its jail nearly four years ago, inmates were taken to doctors' offices and hospitals, and officials had no control over the resulting costs. These days, unforeseen bills such as a $250,000 tab for treatment of a gunshot wound still crop up. But Capt. Gary Steed, who oversees jail operations for Sedgwick County, said everyday colds and flus are handled in the jail's clinic, which is staffed through a contract with Via Christi Regional Med- ical Center. Officials hope to soon sign such a contract for the Saline County Jail. Saline County commissioners Tuesday agreed to send out "requests for proposals" for medical contracts. Rita Deister, assistant county administrator, said proposals will be due in three weeks, so officials can have an idea of the cost of medical care in time to budget for 1998 expenses. Mike Montoya, Saline County counselor, said the hope is that by contracting with an outside provider, medical costs will be more stable, instead of fluctuating widely from year to year. In 1994, the county spent about $120,000 on medical expenses for jail inmates. In 1995, about $135,000 was spent. The estimated expenditure in 1996 was $63,000. The county is requesting proposals for medical as well as dental and mental health care, Montoya said. The contractor would be required to provide nurses seven days a week, and a doctor would have to be on call at all times. Nurses would take over the duty of administering medications to prisoners, thereby relieving the county of liability in case of a medication mix-up. "The idea is that trained personnel who specialize in health care can provide better medical care, and it will shift the liability to them as well," Montoya said. Montoya said he hoped that the contract would provide for all medical costs, including large, unforeseen costs. Several years ago, he noted, the county paid $45,000 for medical expenses for an inmate who was brought to the jail on a probation violation. Local doctors feared the man needed a liver transplant and sent him on to the University of Kansas Medical Center, where a transplant was deemed unnecessary. Another inmate recently suffered a broken jaw in a fight. The county has received bills totaling $7,000 for his treatment, and more bills are expected, Sheriff Glen Kochanowski said. "If we decide on a contract and agree to pay them $120,000, and our expenses are only $80,000, we pay $120,000," Montoya said. "If our expenses are actually $200,000, we still pay $120,000." Unfortunately, Steed said most of Sedgwick County's larger bills aren't covered by its contract with Via Christi. Sedgwick County had to pay about $250,000 recently for treatment of an inmate who suffered a gunshot wound before being incarcerated. A heart pacemaker for another inmate resulted in a bill for $40,000 to $50,000. The medical contract with Via Christi covers only care given inside the facility, such as diagnosis of colds, flus and such. "If an inmate goes to the hospital, that doesn't come out of the contract," Steed said. Medical costs for Sedgwick County's 950 inmates total about $1 million a year, Steed said. Kochanowski said contracting for medical services to be provided in the jail also would reduce security risks. Currently, inmates who are ill are taken to StatCare Family Medical Clinic and Minor Emergency Center, 1001 S. Ohio, or the Salina Regional Health Center emergency room. Every time an inmate is out of the facility, there is a chance that he or she will escape. Capt. Rick Hansmann of the Saline County Sheriffs Office said at least one local health care provider was interested in bidding on the contract. ; Six or seven national companies also provide such services, he said. BRIEFLY Central Mall theaters closed temporarily The four Dickinson Theatres at Central Mall have been temporarily closed to prepare for the addition of four new theaters to the complex. ;.! The theaters closed Monday, and all eight are to open May 23. ; Dickinson marketing director Gary Downs said the new theaters will add space for about 900 additional movie-viewers and will be equipped with digital sound •systems. Fist fight breaks out at major intersection ; A verbal exchange between motorists Monday evening escalated into a fight at the corner of Ohio and Crawford streets. According to police, a pickup containing two juveniles and a car ^driven by 38-year-old Salinan 'Richard George, 2313 Linden, were northbound on Ohio. While stopped for the traffic light at Crawford, two juveniles in one truck and four youths in another vehicle got out ajid approached the car. •; Police said a 16-year-old passenger from one of the vehicles, Dylan Killingsworth, 513 Russell, who was 5-feet, 3-inches tall and weighed 110 pounds, confronted George, who is 5-feet, 10-inches tall and weighs 190 pounds, and a fight ensued. It was quickly broken up by off-duty police officer Mike Schoenhofer, who was stopped at the intersection. Killingsworth, who lost his shirt in the altercation and suffered a scratch on his face, was arrested on suspicion of battery and disorderly conduct. The driver of one of the vehicles, Brian Niederwerder, 17,1421 E. Ellsworth, faces a charge of disorderly conduct. George received a bump on his forehead, police said. Packing plant shut down by lawsuit TOPEKA — Attorney General Carla Stovall has filed a lawsuit against a Junction City packing plant, alleging violations of Kansas consumer protection laws. Stovall said her office obtained a temporary restraining order against Kansas Export Beef Inc. on Friday in Geary County District Court. The plant, with six full-time employees, will be closed by next week. "The meat that the company was selling, which includes beef, pork and poultry, was not something your or I or anyone would want to eat," she said. "We've alleged 437 violations." The charges are civil, not criminal. The U.S. Department of Agriculture brought information to the U.S. attorney's office about two years ago, but the federal prosecutors declined to pursue the matter until December. ETC. -Collisions between highway vehicles and trains at road-rail intersections in Kansas rose nearly 8 percent from 1995 to 1996, from 87 crashes to 94. The 1996 total, however, was still the fifth-lowest collision figure since 1975, according to statistics compiled by the Kansas Corporation Commission. From Staff and Wire Reports When you nwd to know. Tomorrow's Headlines 825-6OOO Category 6006 (Call alter 7:30 p.m.) On the cross RAY BRECHEISEN / The Pittsburg Morning Sun Darren Walker, an employee of Ad-Craft, Wichita, installs Tuesday a 28-foot cross on the side of Mount Carmel Medical Center, Pittsburg. The cross was Installed during National Hospital Week. HAILSTORM Storm is boon to roofers, car shops Companies expect to be busy for months repairing damage By GORDON D. FIEDLER JR. The Salina Journal Last week's hailstorm that cratered vehicles and shingles all over town didn't dent local roofing and auto-body businesses. Firms are bracing for a hectic summer. "We'll be busy for the next two months," said Dan Burr of Burr's Body Shop, 151 S. Fifth. "We've already got this month full and almost next month." The vehicles rolling in so far at Burr's and other shops appear to have been stoned by a torrent of small hail. "They're just covered with a million little dents," Burr said. Kenny Meyer, owner of Kenny's Auto Body Inc., 615 E. Pacific, said some cars are pocked every inch or so, but the individual dings are not massive. "I've not seen any that had hail dents you couldn't cover with a silver dollar," he said. The hail also guaranteed summer employment for employees of local roofing companies. "It's been dry for a while. It definitely will pick up," said Tom Egan of Tom Egan Roofing Inc., 1315 E. Iron. Roofs suffered the most in southwest Salina, where Egan said shingles were drummed with at least 2-inch hail. "A majority of homes and businesses received damage," he said. "A vast number will be reroofed in the next few months." Bill Medina of The Roofing Co., 211 E. Walnut, has received 30 calls from homeowners in the past two days. T TELEPHONE SERVICE V RADIO Employees may buy radio firm Retiring owner of Eagle Communications trying to put together ESOP From Staff and Wire Reports Employees at two Salina radio stations were told Monday they would be given the opportunity to become part-owners in the stations' parent company. Hays-based Eagle Communication, which owns KSKG-FM 99.9 and KINA-AM 910, is being sold by Bob Schmidt, owner and chief executive officer. In a letter to employees, Schmidt outlined a preliminary explanation of an Employee Stock Ownership Plan, designed to give majority control of the company to employees through a stock buyout. The sale would include Eagle Communications' 16 radio stations in Salina, Hays, Hutchinson, Great Bend, St. Joseph, Mo., and Nebraska. Also included would be seven television cable companies in Kansas. Larry Riggins, general manager of KSKG and KINA, said he would buy shares in the company, founded in 1947. "This is a great way to be part of the corporation that you work for," he said. "It's a very unique situation that I think we should take advantage of." Riggins said the Salina stations' 15 employees were excited about the stock-buyout plan. Sonja Burch, an advertising sales representative of the Salina stations, said the ESOP looks good on paper. "We haven't seen all the details," she said. "I have a feeling that I will buy shares in the company. "You have a different perspective when you work for yourself rather than a corporation." Schmidt, 69, said he plans to retire within a few years. The intention to offer the company to employees rather than at- " We've had a lot of telephone activity from people feeling like they have damage," Medina said. And not just on roofs. "There's been siding damage— 'paint off, dented wood," he said! " The injury to cars was such that a number of out-of-town dent-removal specialists have hung out temporary shingles. The folks at ABRA Corp., a division of ABRA Body and Glass Co., of Minneapolis, Minn., expect to be in Salina for three to six months. ABRA, housed in the former Stanion Electric building at 220 E. North, and DentWerks of Wichita, operating out of the Royal Tire Co. facility at Broadway and Crawford streets, are two out-of-town firms offering paintless dent removal. Rob Bates, technician witK ABRA, said most of the cars are candidates for the paintleiss process. But not all. * "I saw a Lincoln Town Car Monday morning that, as far as paint- less dent repair, was not a repairable vehicle," he said. "That was a pretty heavy hit." DentWerks owner Jim Burrows also has seen a variety of damage. One, a station wagon, suffered pings on 12 panels. He, too, expects a deluge of business in the coming weeks. "A lot of people haven't seen their insurance companies yet," Burrows said. Easily detected on car finishes, hail damage is sometimes less apparent on roofs. Egan said a tell-tale sign is the pooling of colored roofing particles at the bottom of the gutter downspouts. "The granules are not easily dislodged," Egan said. Granules washed away in a good rain measure in teaspoons, while a hail will take off cups of the material. Psychiatric care to be offered by video tempting a sale on the open market was announced in late April at a meeting of managers, he said. Schmidt, who owns the majority of stock, said an ESOP will allow the stations to continue with a similar music format and company philosophy. Schmidt declined to comment on the company's value, but said an appraisal was forthcoming. Any agreement must be approved by the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Communications Commission. Schmidt said he expects the stock offering to be complete in October or November. "It is my intention to remain active in the company for at least three years, although considerably less active than I have been in the past," Schmidt said in the letter to employees. "While I will not be a majority stockholder, it is likely that I will be closely associated with the company for at least seven years." Southwestern Bell shows off service it provides for Menninger By ALF ABUHAJLEH The Salina Journal Telephone video-conferencing technology may soon make it common for a rural Kansan to chat with a psychiatrist in a distant city. "We would all like to have the opportunity to sit face-to-face for hours upon hours with the psychiatrist," said Jim Reid, director of the Center for Telepsychiatry at Menninger Clinic. "But reality is that this is a cost-effective way to provide good health care to some patients." The video-teleconferencing equipment that excites Reid was unveiled to Salina-area residents Tuesday by Southwestern Bell Telephone officials. The session was at Kansas State University- Salina. Telepsychiatry is made possible via a video camera hooked to a desktop computer. Brian Turner, a Southwestern Bell account executive at Topeka, said Kansas hospitals have used telepsychiatry in recent years, but this is the first time Southwestern Bell has designed a telephone net- work for a telepsychiatry provider — the Topeka-based Menninger Clinic. The hospital rolled out its telepsychiatry program last month, and Reid said 12 sessions with eight patients have been done at a nursing home in northeast Kansas. Reid wouldn't disclose the name of the nursing home. The hospital has invested abqut $13,000 in video-conferencing equipment, provided by Massachusetts-based PictureTell. Turner said the demonstration in Salina was an attempt to gi,ve Southwestern Bell higher visibility in the local telephone market. Last week, a long-distance telephone competitor, Wichita-baaed Feist Long Distance, announced that it will begin offering lofal telephone services. Valu-Line, 157 S. Seventh, an Emporia-based long-distance carrier, has sold local telephone services in central and eastern Kansas since March. "There is more competition in the market now, and there will be even more in the near future," Turner said. "We want the public to know that we do more than offer regular telephone services. We want to be ready when larger companies like AT&T, MCI and Sprint enter the market." SUGGESTIONS? CALL BEN WEARING, DEPUTY EDITOR, AT (913) 823-6363 OR 1-800-827-6363 OR E-MAIL AT sjnew8®

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