Questioned by a municipal official, the Warren County Commissioners gave an explanation of one area of their expenditures at Wednesday morning's meeting.
Fiscal Director Paul Pascuzzi reported a line item of $8,743 to Crone's Drug Store for medications among the Warren County Jail's bills of $18,149. He said the bill represented two months of medications.
Glade Township Supervisor Joe Scully said he found that amount objectionable.
The commissioners said that a typical month of medications for the jail runs the county about $4,000.
Commissioners John Bortz and John Eggleston, both in their third terms, explained that the expense was much higher in the past.
"When we first came on board, we'd see $12,000, $13,000, $14,000 for one month," Bortz said.
He said the average jail population is about 120 and inmates have various health issues.
"We're responsible for the medical needs of anyone incarcerated," Eggleston said.
Like jails throughout the nation, "we have a lot of people who are incarcerated who have mental health issues," he said.
Psychotropic medications those that act on the central nervous system to alter brain function and are prescribed for certain mental illnesses are particularly expensive, Bortz said.
Having a nurse on site through the week and a doctor who can be called in has helped eliminate needless expense, including medication and emergency room visits. "It's led to considerable savings and a better program," Eggleston said.
"By having a nurse on there through regular business hours, regular assessments can be done," Bortz said.
In the past, inmates who complained of serious illness or pain might have been taken to the emergency room. One emergency room visit could cost the county upwards of $10,000, Bortz said. Now the nurse or doctor can assess the problem and in many cases treat in-house.
Bringing down the costs of medication and other health treatments has taken time, but it is saving the county money, Eggleston said.
"It took us a while," he said. "We had to do a lot of due diligence to make sure people who needed treatment got it but nobody was able to game the system."