Medications for Mono inmates examined

In a federal lawsuit filed by former Mono County Sheriff’s Deputy Jon Madrid and in arbitration testimony over Madrid’s firing, comments were made about the Mono County Jail’s handling of inmate medications. We checked in with Inyo-Mono Public Health Officer Dr. Rick Johnson.

Madrid’s attorney said that when his client brought up the alleged “mishandling of medications for jail inmates”, Sheriff’s Department management retaliated. Testimony over this issue revealed that deputies pick up prescription drugs at local pharmacies and daisy-chain the drugs up to the jail where officers dispense them to inmates.

Asked about medication procedures at the jail, both Mono Sheriff Ralph Obenberger and County Counsel Marshall Rudolph said they could not comment because of ongoing litigation.

Dr. Johnson said the Health Department is not involved in the medication process and that the responsibility falls to the Sheriff and the jail. Johnson said the Health Department responsibility is for the annual inspection of the jail which, he said, “was done without any irregularities in tracking of inventory.”

Johnson said he and Louis Molina of Environmental Health inspected the jail in 2012. He said at that time “policies and procedures met requirements. We were satisfied. I don’t have any evidence of deviation,” he said. Asked about deputies picking up medications, Dr. Johnson said this is a widespread practice. He said, “We found no irregularities regarding medications.” Johnson also said it’s acceptable that Mono County Jail has no jail nurses. He said the Bridgeport Clinic is available.

Title 15 of State Code on Minimum Standards for Local Detention Facilities does say there shall be established procedures for pharmaceuticals and that “administration of medication shall only be done by licensed health personnel who are authorized to administer medication acing on the order of a prescriber.”

In response to this section of Title 15, Dr. Johnson provided us with the information that in August the Board of State and Community Corrections conducted a biennial inspection of the Bridgeport Jail and Court Holding Facility in Mammoth Lakes. The Sheriff’s Office reported that notice was received that the jail passed “without issues and with no corrective action needed.”  The issue in Madrid’s legal action against the Sheriff’s Department is not the handling of medications but how upper management treated him after he raised concerns.

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10 Responses to Medications for Mono inmates examined

  1. Big Rick OBrien September 26, 2013 at 6:13 pm #

    Yeah…like Ralphy would admit to ANYTHING, using the catch-all phrase, “I can’t comment about ongoing litigation”, IF, he were to make any comment at all.

  2. Rite Aid September 26, 2013 at 12:21 pm #

    @ TMR there are controlled substances being transported such as Vicodin, Norco, Methadone and various psychotropic medications. They are put in a regular paper bag and handed to the deputy. I have witnessed it for myself.

    Just call Obenberger or ask any deputy for yourself if you do not believe it.

  3. TMR September 25, 2013 at 7:16 pm #

    “Medications” does not equal “controlled drugs.” Very likely this is about medications for diabetes, depression, heart disease, other mental health issues, antibiotics, etc. not medications that would fall under the “controlled” category at all. Have you never picked up your friend/wife/mother/son’s medications at the pharmacy? Sounds like this is what we are “investigating.”

    But, I have to say, it is very pleasing to me that this has not devolved into an argument/discussion that inmates should not have their medications.

  4. pharmacist September 25, 2013 at 6:55 pm #

    That’s like the Fox guarding the Hen house 🙂

  5. Classic Mono County September 25, 2013 at 1:26 pm #

    Boy Dr Johnson sure was vague, does he even know what the rules and regulations are? He doesn’t sound like it.

    What qualifies him to do these inspections?

    It seems like Mono County is governing Mono County…. don’t see a problem there. LOL

  6. Truth or Consequences September 25, 2013 at 11:59 am #

    Nice piece but it left me with several questions…… Frequently, inspections involve a visit to the jail and not much more. What are the proper procedures according to Board of State and Community Corrections? Does Dr. Johnson know what the procedures are? What does an inspection involve? What is the control mechanism for tracking medications? And lastly, what jails use this “widespread” procedure? I don’t think so……as there is no control/tracking.

  7. Serious Questions September 25, 2013 at 10:28 am #

    How often is this inventory being looked at since Dr. Johnson claims that he inspected it in 2012? They way I read this…. once a year? How would they ever know if there are any irregularities if you only inspect them only once a year?

    Plus how would he know what the inventory there should be at the jail at any given time if there might be medications in the seat of a deputy’s car on the way to Bridgeport? Being passed from Deputy to Deputy doesn’t sound secure to me.

    I would also like to know who monitors the inmates Blood Pressures and Blood Sugars if there are no licensed medical personnel at the jail? Especially if they are on medication for these issues. I have never heard of any county jail that handles medications this way.

    Dr Johnson states that Deputies and jailers handling medications for inmates is a widespread practice. Did he even give one example of a county that handles it this way? How does Inyo handle their medications delivery? Do they have any licensed medical professionals on staff?

    He claims that Bridgeport Clinic is available. How often is it even open? From what I have seen, not too often.

    Since Mammoth Hospital is an hour drive from Bridgeport I see some serious liability issues here…. does anyone else?

    • Pedro September 25, 2013 at 6:30 pm #

      Widespread practice in county jails between Walker and Lee Vining. Pretty scary being given medication by the untrained. Do they take the medication out of the container for the inmate? Let’s see… Bill said Joe told Ed the Pharmacist said something about side effects…. If the clinic is available, why don’t they use their staff?

      • Big Rick OBrien September 26, 2013 at 6:16 pm #

        $$$…That’s why.

  8. Saga continues.... September 25, 2013 at 10:18 am #

    I worked in Corrections for 8 years and we never were we allowed to administer or transport ANY controlled drugs PERIOD! The Title 15 CLEARLY states what the minimum standards are and obviously Dr. Johnson doesn’t want to be involved in this litigation. How could a biannual inspection never brought this issue up before? When Madrid questioned the handling of this several years ago, why wasn’t this addressed as a concern?


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