Livingston told the committee the state currently has about 150 inmates in free-world hospitals - the largest number, 60 beds, at UT-Tyler, with another 20 inmates at Huntsville Memorial.
Brad Livingston, the prison system's executive director, said administrators at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston have promised to reopen some of the prison hospital's 365 beds later this month, but a full reopening is indefinite. Currently, a limited number of inmates are going to the facility for clinic visits, not overnight stays.
"It creates a real challenge," Livingston said. "It goes without saying that security risks go up."Instead of sending convicts to Galveston for treatment, prison officials for weeks have been housing the bulk of them in public hospitals at the University of Texas at Tyler, Huntsville Memorial Hospital and a hospital in Conroe, among others. ...
In other parts of Texas, convicts are being transported to local hospitals for treatment or they are being treated at prison infirmaries — normally reserved for minor care.
In addition to extra costs of treatment at local hospitals, officials said convict-patients also require around-the-clock security. "There will be additional costs. How much, we don't know at this point," said Dr. Lanette Linthicum, the prison system's medical director.
Livingston and UTMB officials, who on Wednesday got orders to lay off 3,800 UTMB employees as a result of an estimated $710 million in hurricane-related damage to the Galveston complex of hospitals and labs, said they also do not know the final cost of the alternate care.
"(UTMB) has promised us they will eventually return Hospital Galveston to pre-Ike conditions," Livingston said. "We're not thinking about moving the (prison) hospital out of Galveston."
I wish we'd heard whether UTMB's telemedicine program is up and running and how they're providing specialty care with UTMB's Galveston facility decimated and a third of their staff laid off, but one suspects these problems aren't going away and the issue will be revisited as the Lege session approaches.