CHESTER COUNTY, SC — A South Carolina hospital has undergone millions of dollars in security upgrades as prisoners move into a new wing of the hospital.
The South Carolina Department of Corrections will transfer prisoners to MUSC Chester Medical Center in the near future.
Officials showed Channel 9’s Tina Terry around the new wing and explained how they plan to keep the community safe.
It won’t look like your typical hospital. Barbed wire covers the windows and guards will watch the hallways.
Chester County Sheriff Max Dorsey said the DOC will provide security inside the 36-bed inpatient unit.
“The Department of Corrections are the experts in prison management. And that’s what it is. This is a prison hospital, so they have primary responsibilities,” Dorsey said.
DOC has invested $3.3 million to ensure the new unit will be safe and secure.
“There is also a lock that must be controlled by officers inside the unit to let anyone in or out,” an official said.
Medical center officials said the partnership was a win-win, saying it would give the rural hospital a bigger footprint.
“It will double the number of patients here, and through that we can get more doctors, we can get more nurses, and it will just make the whole medical system more robust,” the MUSC CEO said, Dr. Pat Cauley.
Prior to the new partnership, the DOC referred sick patients to various hospitals across the state. They assigned two officers to monitor each inmate.
“The consolidation here could be 20 officers per day, 10 per in-person shift. They will be there to make sure everyone is safe,” SCDOC Director Brian Sterling said.
While the DOC keeps workers and patients safe inside, Dorsey said his office is ready to respond to any issues outside the facility.
“I want the community to know this is a safe place,” Dorsey said. “I’m asking them to use this hospital as they normally would. They’ll be customers of this hospital and they probably won’t even see the impact this wing will have on this building.
The prison hospital is expected to open before the end of the year.
The DOC said that after the first year, it will also save $3.2 million annually in drug costs because they can take advantage of federal drug reduction programs.
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