That’s the problem Union County Council sought to deal with Tuesday evening by voting unanimously to form a committee composed of council members, board members and the general public charged with solving the problem. Supervisor Tommy Sinclair said the matter needs to be resolved before March 31 when the terms of four of the board’s seven members come to an end.
The board is composed of four lay persons — Tim Svedlund (chairman), Jeffrey L. Cannon, Iverson G. Vanderford and Rhonda C. Ingle — and three physicians — Drs. Christopher R. McWhorter, Robert A. Yannetti and Gerald D. Fielder. Svedlund’s, Cannon’s, McWhorter’s and Yannetti’s terms will expire at the end of March at which time council will have to appoint new members or reappoint old ones.
Sinclair said the problem is, while the law requires three physicians on the board it forbids district employees from serving on the board. Most local physicians, including McWhorter and Yannetti, are employees of the district therefore could not be reappointed to the board. Fielder, however, is not employed by the district and could be reappointed when his term expires in 2012.
The law forbidding employees from serving on the governing boards of their organizations is a common law known as the “master/servant concept.” Sinclair said the same common law forbids teachers from serving on school boards because of the potential conflict of interest. He said the opinions of attorneys and attorney generals dating back as far as 1913 supports this law. The committee will have to come up with a means of satifsying the requirements of both the statute requiring three physicians to serve as board members and the common law of South Carolina which forbids employees to be their own governors.
Sinclair said he will be meeting with the various parties involved to set up the committee. He urged the general public to get involved with the committee.
Council also voted unanimously to authorize the Union County Sheriff’s Office to negotiate an agreement with a firm to provide medical services to inmates at the county jail and detention center.
Chief Deputy Perry Haney said a review by the sheriff’s office of companies that provide medical services for inmates determined that Medico Correctional Health Corporation would provide better medical care for county prisoners. He said the proposed agreement would be at no additional cost to the taxpayer as funds are already budgeted. Also, Haney said based on their review, the sheriff’s office believes medical services provided by Medico would be more cost-effective than the system currently in place.
Currently, medical services for county prisoners are provided on an as-needed basis by local health-care providers. Haney said this has put the county at odds with the SC Department of Corrections. He said an agreement with Medico would bring the county into compliance with state regulations and help it avoid unncessary liability issues.
Council also voted unanimously to authorize the sheriff’s office to renew its mutual aid agreements with other law enforcement agencies.
Haney said the sheriff’s office has mutual aid agreements with the Union Public Safety Department, the Jonesville Police Department, the Pacolet Police Department and the sheriff’s offices of Chester, Laurens, Newberry, Spartanburg and Cherokee counties. He said the agreements allows the sheriff’s office to work narcotics investigations with those agencies and allows all agencies involved to share manpower and resources with each other.