Nurse shortage prompts jail booking change in Lucas County

Nurse shortage prompts jail booking change in Lucas County
Published: Jul. 11, 2022 at 7:14 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - The nursing shortage we keep hearing about is having a new effect. Some people facing criminal charges are being told they can’t be brought to jail.

It’s happening in Lucas County where recently the jail has found itself without a nurse.

Now the sheriff is telling law enforcement their first stop may need to be a hospital.

Sheriff Mike Navarre says the nursing issue hit a critical level at the jail in the last few weeks where he had to tell law enforcement that if they had someone feeling ill, that they could not be brought to the jail until that illness was resolved.

The Lucas County jail was never built or considered to be a medical facility but there are nurses there to take care of the inmates. Recently, though, staffing shortages hit hard.

“For the first time maybe in the history of this jail that we couldn’t cover three shifts in a single day,” said Lucas County Sheriff Mike Navarre.

That’s in part why Sheriff Navarre issued a memo to county law enforcement last week saying in part “arrestees who are brought to booking with injuries or health issues will not be accepted until seen and given clearance at a medical facility.”

That includes, according to the memo, people experiencing withdrawal from drugs or alcohol.

“I would think by the end of this month things will return to normal. Provided we can retain the nurses that we have,” said Sheriff Navarre.

Sheriff Navarre says a recent surge in resignations forced mandatory overtime which prompted more resignations. That forced him to issue this call for outside medical care. The officer would take the person to a local emergency room.

It’s then up to that officer to wait for the medical care and then go back to the jail, or to leave and give that person a summons to appear in court.

“You would never let the most serious arrestees go but we book in a lot of individuals here that can be summonsed,” said Sheriff Navarre.

A Toledo Police spokesman says they’d never release people who are accused of violent offenses so the procedure won’t change too much. But if call volumes get high, they will need to decide if they want to take a crew off the streets and stay at the hospital for other lesser offenses.

There is good hiring news for the sheriff. He’s hired 2 nurses who are in orientation right now. 4 more in total should be starting by the end of the month.

The sheriff also says when there is a medical emergency and there’s either no nurse or the one here is tied up, he has and always will call the Toledo Fire department which will always respond and provide needed medical care.

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