Clallam to buy monitoring bracelets for inmates

One-year grant funding to purchase seven units for jail

PORT ANGELES — Clallam County commissioners plan to use a one-year, $25,000 state grant to buy seven medical monitoring bracelets for at-risk jail inmates.

The three commissioners are scheduled to consider approval of the agreement with 4Sight Labs of San Francisco at their next meeting regular meeting, set for 10 a.m. Tuesday in the commissioners’ meeting room at the Clallam County Courthouse, 223 E. Fourth St. in Port Angeles.

“We’re gonna use them on the at-risk inmates, the ones who are coming off the opioids,” said Don Wenzl, Clallam County chief corrections deputy. “It’s the size of an old-school pager that is secured to their wrist by a rubber strap so they can’t remove it.”

“It provides heart rate, skin temperature, blood oxygen level in a real-time so that if there’s any change from the set deviation that our nurses see. Then two spots will get alerts, in our booking area as well as the mobile devices that the nurse will have.”

The jail nurses will decide which inmates will receive the bracelets, Wenzl said. The county won’t remove deputies from more constant observations of at-risk inmates, he added.

The bracelets will give jail staff a real-time look at what’s going on with the at-risk inmates in case something happens in between regular observation checks, he said.

One inmate with cardiovascular issues has been in the jail for a year and probably will be there for a while, Wenzl said.

“This will be a good item for him to have on his wrist for the nurses to monitor,” he said. “As well as suicide prevention.”

The county originally was going to purchase five but was able to include two more after the grant was approved, Wenzl said.

“It seems like a good idea,” Commissioner Mike French said. “There’s not much more to say.”

Wenzl said the county does have inmates who are high-risk throughout the jail.

”And, down the road, if we feel we can use more than seven (bracelets), I guess we’ll have to take a look at that,” he said.

County Chief Financial Officer Mark Lane said the per-fee licensing model for the software could get expensive.

“Especially since the population of our jail has become more and more where we are dealing with mental health issues,” Lane said. “I’m just wondering if we have looked at other vendors to see if there’s anything that’s more scaleable and cost effective rather than one that’s tied to a per-fee license?”

Clallam County Sheriff Brian King said there are currently very few of these types of vendors but there will be some competition once other companies see what products are being rolled out.

“Because, quite frankly, I’d love to put a bracelet on every inmate,” he said.

As far as future funding sources once the grant expires, King said the state’s risk pool will see the value of them in jails and continue funding them.

Otherwise, the county could potentially use Medicaid dollars, opioid settlement dollars or what is known as “Hargrove funding,” named after former state Sen. Jim Hargrove, who became known for setting up early intervention programs to try to reduce long-term medical and substance abuse costs.

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Reporter Brian Gawley can be reached by email at brian.gawley@peninsulanews.us.

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