To the Editor,
When Kathy Fojtik stated in her campaign literature that she had "worked to initiate" the Medical Care Facility in the county jail, she was absolutely correct and did not mislead the public in any way.
In late 1972, before she took office as the newly elected county commissioner from District 14, Kathy Fojtik contacted Dr. Paul Gikas, then of the city Board of Health, to discuss with him the problems and the reasons that a medical care facility had not yet been initiated, even though the idea and proposal had been discussed at some length. Dr. Gikas discussed the problems involved and the biggest road block to implementing a medical care facility within the county jail seemed to be who would work within the jail. The University had hesitated to extend their malpractice coverage to the county jail and therefore, it was impossible to work out a contract with the Residents and Interns Association or any other group of physicians without the ary insurance. Kathy Fojtik agreed at that time to seek legal counsel and to work out the insurance coverage problem with the county insurance carrier.
In a second meeting held at the University with representatives of the Sheriff's Department, Dr. Jay Harness, then President of the Interns and Resident's Association and others (including Commissioner Fojtik) then worked out further details of the proposed Medical Care Facility within the county jail. The matter was then taken to the Health. Committee of the Board of Commissioners (chaired by Commissioner Fojtik) and the Ways and Means Committee. The University had indicated clearly that malpractice insurance would not be provided through their program. Therefore, the county agreed to cover the interns and residents. With the solution of the "malpractice" problem by the county, the Interns and Residents Association was free to sign a contract with the county to provide services within the county jail.
From our vantage point, prior to Commissioner Fojtik's efforts, no one in county government demonstrated effective concern about solving the health care problem at the jail. In our efforts to introduce the current health care delivery system we were constantly frustrated by negative responses to our proposals. Commissioner Fojtik's dedication diligence and legislative ability served as the all important catalyst in County government which permitted the health care program at the jail to become a reality.
- Paul W. Gikas, M.D.
- Jay K. Harness, M.D.