PENDLETON - A retired physician/psychologist has volunteered his services at the county jail and also is willing to provide psychological services to deputies, 9-1-1 dispatchers and victims of crime, Sheriff John Trumbo told the county commissioners Monday.
Dr. Charles Johnston would primarily be used by Trumbo as a consultant on the mental health care the inmates receive.
"I've known him for years and I have all the confidence in the world in his abilities," Trumbo said.
With the rise in methamphetamine, behavior at the jail is sometimes "bizarre," Trumbo said. The county would benefit from having someone like Johnston checking the mental health measures taken and ensuring the proper procedures are followed and treatments pursued, he added.
"We have a new mental health provider coming into the jail and I wanted some independent oversight," Trumbo said. "I'm looking for someone to go into the jail medical records and make sure we're up to speed and doing everything right."
He said that Johnston also has offered to volunteer his psychiatric and counseling services in crisis situations to counsel staff and victims.
As an example, Trumbo cited 9-1-1 dispatchers who might experience stress from the harrowing nature of their jobs, as well as deputies who might request help along with people who may be impacted by major crime.
Board of Commissioners Chairman Emile Holeman, along with commissioners Bill Hansell and Dennis Doherty, were eager to encourage Trumbo to work out an agreement with the doctor and research the cost of providing Johnston with malpractice insurance for treatments he may prescribe as a volunteer.
"In concept, we all agree this is a wonderful opportunity for the county," Holeman said.
"It is laudable that Dr. Johnston is willing to do this," Doherty told the sheriff. "It is my thought that we approve this in concept today."
The commissioners asked Trumbo to report back to them with a formal agreement and on any costs involved as soon as possible.