A plan to provide inmates with a 90-day supply of medication when they are being discharged from prison instead of the three days supply they now receive was presented to the Schuylkill County Prison Board at its monthly meeting, which was held in the Schuylkill County Prison in Pottsville.

This was one of four meetings a year the board holds in the prison, with the other meetings held in the county commissioners' board room in the courthouse across the street.

The proposal was made by Judith A. Schweich, executive director of the Schuylkill Alliance for Health Care Access. The board members were receptive to the proposal.

Commissioner Gary Hess, a board member, said the commissioners will contact their state and federal representatives to see if any funds or grants are available for such a program. Schweich pointed out the larger supply will allow the inmate to make arrangements to continue with the medication he needs. In the past , after running out, they couldn't obtain further treatment and many returned to committing crimes.

She told the board the Schuylkill Alliance is not insurance, but is a safety net for those who do not have insurance because they cannot afford it. She added that there was a $25 enrollment fee and a $15 renewal fee. Those eligible are county residents, ages 19 through 64, with household incomes up to 250 percent of federal poverty guidelines.

Clients who enroll in the program get discounts with doctor visits, testing, women's/men's health exams, trauma-related emergency room visits, some dental care and other preventive medicine.

Clients are responsible for the entire bill of service, which is based on the medical fee schedule and the Alliance assists with getting free and low-cost prescriptions through a prescription assistance plan and discount card for local pharmacies.

"Our goal," Schweich told the board, "is to keep our clients healthy and out of the emergency room while they wait for permanent health insurance."

Warden Eugene Berdanier gave his monthly report on the conditions of the prison.

Leaks in the kitchen roof were repaired, several telephones in the cell blocks were repaired and plumbing was needed to clear a sewer drain pipe in the laundry room.

New toilets were installed in two cells and because of a misuse of a soap dispenser, its location was moved from the work release bathroom and relocated in the laundry room where there is a security camera.

The census report shows in August the peak number of inmates was 300 males and peak female total was 47.

Several correction officers are attending a training program in Berks County prison.

Three policies were revised: entrance policy under the contraband control section, back gate access policy under the key control section policy, and language in the inmate handbook under the mail correspondence policy.

Cost of operating the prison during the month of August totaled $453,623,22, which included $287,863.13 in salaries; $31,284.25 in overtime; $7,427.69 in materials and supplies; $1,300.40 for clothing and bedding; $40,173.12 for groceries; $13,975.95 for fuel, electricity and water and sewer; $61,347.82 for professional services; $2,132.76 for maintenance and repairs; and $5,886.21 under a maintenance agreement.

PrimeCare Medical Inc., which provides health care to the inmates, reported 202 were on sick call, 42 saw a dentist, and 14 were on suicide watch with no incidents to report.

Twenty-one inmates were housed in the work release section. They leave the prison daily to attend to their occupation and return to the prison when their work is done. Five females also participated in the program.

The county received $4,292 for room and board and $1,360 toward their costs and fines.

The Vocational Rehabilitation Program had 23 inmates complete 27 jobs, including three days of service for senior citizens, performing 13 community service jobs and eight jobs for the county.

An education program provided by the Pottsville Area School District had 14 inmates participate in the program out of 27 inmates who are 21 years or younger who were interviewed.

Of those declining five inmates already graduated high school, three inmates had their General Education Diploma (GED) and did not want to pursue their high school degree, three inmates said they were leaving shortly, and four stated they were not interested.