(This article is being corrected because the information from the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department had the incorrect job title for the new position.)
When it came to getting a new discharge planner position at the county jail in High Point to tend to the inmate population, the third time asking proved to be a charm for Guilford County Sheriff Danny Rogers. The sheriff got what he wanted – but he got it in a very unusual way with funding from an unlikely source.
Rogers and his staff asked Guilford County Manager Marty Lawing for money to fund the newposition earlier this year as part of the 2019-2020 budget and Lawing said no. A discharge planner helps see that inmates get medical help, mental health care and treatment for things like alcoholism and substance abuse even after they have left the jail. Experts say that helps reduce recidivism.
On Thursday, June 20, at a meeting when the Board of Commissioners adopted a new county budget, Rogers went before the commissioners – Lawing’s bosses – and asked them for the extra medical help at the jail in High Point.
The commissioners also said no – funds were too tight right now.
Ordinarily, that would have been the end of the story; however, after being turned down by the county manager and the county commissioners, Rogers met with representatives of WellPath – the healthcare company that provides medical care to inmates in the county’s two jails. In a surprise move that no one saw coming, WellPath agreed to add the position at no additional cost to Guilford County.
When the county commissioners approved the new $4.3 million annual contract with WellPath on Thursday night, that agreement didn’t include the new position in High Point. However, in correspondence from the Sheriff’s Department after the meeting, Rogers and staff met with WellPath to discuss fears that medical service in the jail might suffer since the board didn’t approve the additional positions requested.
A Friday, June 21 letter from the Sheriff’s Department to the CEO and president of WellPath states: “Sheriff Rogers met with Zela Guirola (VP of Partnership Development) and Laura Busbin (Director of Partnership Development) after the commissioners meeting to discuss those concerns. After some discussion, WellPath agreed to add the additional personnel to enhance inmate care without any additional cost to the county.”
So now the High Point jail will get the requested position, but Lawing and the commissioners won’t have to worry about finding any extra money in the budget to pay for the position.
In the June 21 letter, Rogers wrote that he wanted to thank WellPath for making the move, and he also praised “their commitment to excellence and their compassion for those inmates in need of medical care.”
The sheriff also issued a special thanks to Guirola and Busbin for their help in the negotiations.