Increased health care at Snohomish County Jail

by: Graham Johnson Updated:

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Snohomish County, Wash. - A doctor will begin work at the Snohomish County Jail in September as the sheriff's office makes changes following the deaths of eight inmates since 2010. A spokeswoman for Snohomish County Sheriff Ty Trenary says the doctor will work three days a week at first, and will hopefully be full-time in 2014.

The sheriff also wants to increase the number of medical staff from 16 to 26. "The No. 1 priority for us is safety, both for the inmates and for the staff," said Shari Ireton of the sheriff's office.

Michael Saffioti, 22, died last year while in custody for marijuana possession. He suffered from allergies so extreme, his mother believes the breakfast he was fed in jail ultimately killed him. Rose Saffioti says despite having her son's medical records on file, jail staffers didn't do enough to protect him. "All along, for my son's case, I really felt strongly that someone from the outside should come in and do a review," Saffioti said.

The Sheriff's Office contacted Pierce County for advice and requested that officials from the National Institute of Corrections visit the jail and suggest changes. Federal reviewers have already looked at jail operations and are expected to issue a report next week. Their review of medical operations will come later.