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SLO County Jail Medical Programs Unit ready for operation

The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department is unveiling its new Medical Programs Unit at the county jail which has been years in the making and comes amid a string of controversial inmate deaths, suicides and attempted suicides.

The Medical Programs Unit, or MPU, is part of new SLO County Jail facilities built after the demolition of the old county women’s jail.

The new MPU includes expanded medical and mental health exam and consultation rooms, inmate waiting area, on-site dental care, inmate classrooms, a pharmacy and medical staff offices.

“This space increases, doubling and in some cases tripling our service capabilities”, said Lt. Stephanie Landgraf with the SLO County Jail, “so you have three mental health treatment rooms, three services can be going on at any one time, with the large common area as well as the additional waiting rooms, we can offer services to more people at any one time, we’ve added the dental suite which we’ve never had previously, currently we contract services through CHC to bring the dental van here on site to provide dental care.”

The SLO County Jail MPU is a 24-7, 365 day facility that expands inmate medical care from the existing 2,500 square feet to about 8,000 square feet for both medical and mental health services, jail programs and classrooms.

The MPU is designed to accommodate a growing county jail population and longer inmate incarceration periods amid California’s controversial state prison realignment.

“Historically our population was a sentence of 365 days maximum, so somebody wouldn’t be in custody for longer than that”, Lt. Landgraf said, “preventative maintenance like teeth cleaning or annual checkups weren’t necessarily part of a jail population as they were in prisons, however AB 109 and sentences of more than a year, some up to a decade or more, now need those preventative services.”

Lt. Landgraf says the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department expects to begin operating the new Medical Programs Unit in the coming weeks after completing all jail staff training.

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