ST. MARTINVILLE — The nearly 200 inmates at St. Martin Parish Correctional Center are now receiving health care in a different way.
Thanks to a grant from the USDA, the jail partnered with St. Martin Hospital to provide telemedicine services.
Telemedicine connects inmates to a health care provider.
"For the first time, we now have accessibility to physicians and nurse practitioners any day of the week: holiday, weekends, nights," explained St. Martin Hospital CEO Karen Wyble.
An inmate can receive immediate treatment at the jail from a nurse without having to be escorted to the hospital.
Parish President Chester Cedars says the new program is saving the parish money.
"The ability to have telemedicine capabilities, the provision of medical care on a 24-7 basis has eliminated those types of transportation costs," said Cedars.
Once it's determined that an inmate needs medical attention, a deputy will escort the inmate to a room where a nurse will assess them. The nurse will then determine if the assistance of telemedicine is needed.
Inmates will also receive follow-up care once they're released from jail. Through the program, they will be given a Medicaid card and can receive treatment at the hospital's community health clinic.
"As a result of the enhanced treatment, [the parish will] probably [see] a reduction in repeat offenders," said Cedars.
The hospital's CEO says the program sets inmates up for success in the future.
"Allowing them to have the care they need 24-7 has really given them the inspiration and the hope that they can do better and that we do care about them," said Wyble.