Chester Medical Center undergoes security upgrades as wing for prisoners set to open

CHESTER COUNTY, S.C. — A hospital in South Carolina has undergone millions of dollars in security upgrades as prisoners will move into a new wing of the hospital.

The South Carolina Department of Corrections will move the prisoners into the MUSC Chester Medical Center in the near future.

Officials showed Channel 9′s Tina Terry around the new wing and explained how they plan to keep the community safe.

It won’t look like your typical hospital. Barbed wire covers the windows, and guards will monitor the halls.

Chester County Sheriff Max Dorsey said DOC will keep the inside of the 36-bed inpatient unit secure.

“The Department of Corrections, they are the experts on running prisons. And that’s what this is. This is a prison hospital so they have primary responsibilities,” Dorsey said.

The DOC invested $3.3 million to ensure the new unit will be safe and secure.

“There’s also a lock that has to be controlled from the officers inside the unit to let anyone in or out,” an official said.

Officials from the medical center said the partnership is a win-win, claiming it will give the rural hospital a larger footprint.

“It will double the size of the number of patients here, and because of that we can recruit more doctors, we can recruit more nurses, and it just makes the entire medical system more robust,” said MUSC CEO Dr. Pat Cauley.

Before the new partnership, the DOC would send sick patients to various hospital around the state. They would assign two officers to watch every single inmate.

“Consolidating here could be 20 officers per day, 10 per shift in person. They’ll be here to make sure everyone is safe,” said Brian Sterling, the director of SCDOC.

While the DOC keeps workers and patients safe inside, Dorsey said his office is ready to respond to any issues outside the facility.

“I want the community to know this is a safe place,” Dorsey said. “I ask that they utilize this hospital like they normally would. They will be customers of this hospital and they more than likely won’t even see the impact that this wing will have on this building.”

The prison hospital is set to open sometime before the end of the year.

DOC said after the first year, it will also save $3.2 million a year in drug costs as they will be able to take advantage of federal drug discount programs.

(WATCH BELOW: Mecklenburg County juvenile jail to close earlier than expected, causing concern)