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Ballad Health donates more than $230,000 to improve safety, security for Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Ballad Health donates more than $230,000 to improve safety, security for Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office

Ballad Health and Sullivan County are coming together to improve health and safety for the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office.

On Thursday, Jan. 16, the Board of County Commissioners of Sullivan County passed a resolution to accept Ballad Health’s donation of $238,175 in equipment and funds to install a full body scanner at the Sullivan County Main Jail Facility. The new equipment will detect contraband and potential security risks before they enter the correctional facility.

“Ballad Health was created to make life better in the Appalachian Highlands – not just by treating illness and injuries in our hospitals and doctors’ offices, but to tackle the tough problems in our communities,” said Eric Deaton, the health system’s chief operating officer. “When we look at major issues in our region like substance abuse, we know there’s a serious correlation between that problem, high-risk and illicit behaviors and our overall well-being.

“Joining forces with the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office in this effort not only protects inmates, law enforcement officers and jail visitors, but it also helps curtail the far-reaching effects of drug use and illegal activity and the impact they have on our health.”

The scanner can quickly detect metal, plastic, organic and inorganic objects, which means it can find items such as needles, weapons and cell phones, as well as illegal drugs that have been swallowed or hidden in bodies.

“I am extremely appreciative of Ballad Health for the body scanner they purchased for the Sullivan County Jail,” said Jeff Cassidy, Sullivan County Sheriff. “This donation will be extremely helpful in identifying contraband and dangerous drugs in possession of those entering the jail, which will greatly increase the safety of the inmates and employees.

“We are thankful for the donation of the body scanner and look forward to its benefit for years to come.”

Cassidy and other officials with Sullivan County say the new scanner is a safer, more discreet and more effective way to search inmates. The scanning process takes about 10 seconds and generates an X-ray image that shows the entire body and any contraband.

“Substance abuse and addiction are tremendous problems in our corrections system, and they’re also huge community health hazards,” said Hershel Glover, the Sullivan County Commissioner who sponsored the resolution. “We’re implementing these scanners to take a proactive approach to the problem, and working as a team with Ballad Health and the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office makes it all possible.”

Funds from Ballad Health will also enable the sheriff’s office to modify the back entrance of the jail to accommodate the scanner. Glover and the rest of the Sullivan County Commission will announce the installation timeline as it’s finalized.

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