Grand Traverse County Sheriff Addresses Medical Issues at Jail

For months, Greg Hall of Traverse City has been on a crusade against the Grand Traverse County Jail.

His pursuit started in February when his mother was arrested and later locked up. He says she never had a medical exam and did not receive her blood pressure pills, which he hand-delivered to the jail.

“She did not get that medication for three days. There’s absolutely no excuse for that,” said Hall. “She ended up in the emergency room with a potentially catastrophic blood pressure level.”

He asked Sheriff Thomas Bensley and the county to investigate the incidence. In September, county administrator Nate Alger concluded the county committed no wrongdoings.

“I have not heard of any medical malpractice any issues with staff doing things wrong,” said Sheriff Bensley.

Hall said he’s spoken to many community members who have all shared similar stories of neglect and poor medical treatment in the jail.

He started a Facebook page called Abuse at the Grand Traverse County Jail, which has almost 1000 likes.

“I have received hundreds and hundreds of stories from people that experienced the same things that are in my complaint,” said Hall.

On Monday, Sheriff Bensley addressed the allegations and issues in a county meeting with Grand Traverse commissioners.

He says the county used to staff their own nurses and medical staff but switched to a third-party medical provider more than 10 years ago. Now, they rely on Wellpath to staff the jail and care for the inmates.

“If there are issues, I’m told they’re worked out by the staff,” said Sheriff Bensley. “[Making sure Wellpath does the right thing] is not my job. There is a level of trust here that when we hire somebody, they will do that.”

Sheriff Bensley said in the past few years, more inmates have had physical and mental health issues.

“We’re not a hospital. We are not a mental health facility. But we have seen a huge change in our inmates and the issues and problems they have,” said Sheriff Bensley.

County commissioners suggested hiring a third party county employee to supervise Wellpath to ensure the best possible medical practices. The sheriff says he will consider it.