Jail medical provider responds to inmate deaths, says opioid problem 10x worse here than elsewhere

As the Montgomery County Jail Coalition calls for increased scrutiny of the health care provider at the Montgomery County Jail in the wake of six inmate deaths this year, the provider says the problem is this region’s opioid crisis.

“Since January 2023, we have treated more than 1,000 individuals going through opioid withdrawal within the Montgomery County Jail. In comparison, at other correctional facilities of a similar size, we have treated fewer than 100 patients going through opioid withdrawal within the same timeframe,” said a spokesperson for NaphCare, which is contracted to provide medical and mental health services at the jail.

The NaphCare spokesperson stated that through the use of Narcan, health care staff at the Montgomery County Jail have helped more than a dozen people experiencing overdoses in the facility.

But Montgomery County Jail Coalition leaders say more action is needed. This year has seen more jail deaths than 2021 and 2022 combined, according to coroner’s office data.

Coalition member Yvonne Curington, who also works as a nurse and patient activist, called the number of deaths among inmates this year “appalling” during Tuesday’s Montgomery County commission meeting.

“People can’t keep dying,” she told commissioners. “And what do you see as your role in this?”

Montgomery County Commissioner Judy Dodge on Tuesday said the commission is very concerned, but cannot comment on ongoing investigations.

Curington pointed to turnover with jail employment and drug overdoses among inmates. She also echoed the coalition’s previous concerns with NaphCare, noting the end of the county’s contract with the medical and mental health care provider later this year.

University of Dayton professor Joel Pruce, another coalition member, previously said that inmate deaths have been a crisis since the beginning of the year.

Pruce said the prison system was not designed to be a place for people to get well and raised concern over the jail’s contractor for health services.

“The provider that taxpayers pay for care needs to be scrutinized,” he said.

NaphCare pointed to the impact of overdoses in the Miami Valley.

“This directly affects the Montgomery County Jail, as correctional facilities nationwide have experienced disproportionate increases in the number of people incarcerated with mental health and substance abuse disorders,” the NaphCare spokesperson said.

Six jail deaths this year

· Steven D. Blackshear, 54, of Dayton, was booked into the jail Jan. 26 and awaiting trial for misdemeanor theft. He died Jan. 29. The coroner’s office said the cause was “intoxication by fentanyl. Atherosclerotic and hypertensive cardiovascular disease were contributing conditions.”

· Aaron Dixon, 52, was being held on drug charges since Jan. 9, when he died on Jan. 13. The coroner’s office said the cause was “Fentanyl and buprenorphine intoxication.”

· Amber Goonan, 41, was arrested on charges of drug possession and booked into the jail on Feb. 19. She died on Feb. 24 of “multiple drug intoxication” including fentanyl, fluorofentanyl, and others, according to the coroner’s office, with bronchopneumonia as a contributing factor.

· Isaiah Trammell, 19, was arrested on charges of domestic violence on March 13, and died March 16. His cause of death is still under investigation.

· Amanda K. Campbell, 44, of Vandalia, was arrested on a warrant from Vandalia Municipal Court for theft, warrants from Montgomery County Eastern Division for receiving stolen property and obstructing official business and a warrant from Kettering Municipal Court for falsification. She was booked into the jail April 2 and died there at 7:02 a.m. April 4. According to the sheriff’s office spokesperson, Campbell’s death was “naturally caused because of her extensive health issues.” The investigation of her death is also pending.

· Gerald Ford, 47, died on June 10 at the hospital after being found during a medical emergency in the direct-supervision unit hours after his booking.

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