FARMINGTON, Utah (ABC4 News) -The Davis County Sheriff’s Office came up with a new way to help the sick and mentally ill in their custody.

Friday, officials broke ground on a new Medical Observation Unit.

DCSO Medical Observation Unit

Sheriff Kelly Sparks says, “I really want to thank all of the people who have come together to make this happen.”

“So this is huge,” says Chief Deputy Arnold Butcher. “When the original jail was built down here in Farmington in 1990, they built a medical section at that time that was really focused more on just security and they didn’t have a lot of the problems that we are dealing with now.”

It’s been more than a decade since there was an upgrade at the Davis County Jail.

Chief Deputy Butcher tells us this will be the first time men and women seeking medical care in their custody can be easily separated.

“It is not intended for long term housing of an inmate. It’s for observation of those who are either mentally ill or critically medically ill, and this facility is going to give us technology that allows us to have a better visual on these individuals,” he adds.

Right now, the jail has six cells that can house up to 12 inmates who are sick. It’s a big difference to the roughly 25 they can treat in the future.

“It will give us an ability to have more available so that we can do more acute care for the mentally ill as well as the Telehealth services, and really expand on what we are doing with mental health services,” says the Deputy Chief.

The facility will cost a little more than eight million dollars.

The unit will be more open to easily observe sick inmates and equipped with negative pressure cells, and it will have its own sally port.

DCSO Medical Observation Unit

“It opens up the ability to use less resources, to have people in house so that we know they are safe here, and it also gives us the opportunity to maybe if there is an inmate we had to turn away that could still be a threat to the community – allowing them to stay here and properly care for them,” says the Davis County Sheriff’s Office Health Services Administrator Sabrina Harman. “I mean right now we are able to keep a close eye on them but they may be further away from the medical team, so they will all be housed in one [place] will be very helpful.”

Deputies hope this shows the community their commitment to making sure everyone in their care is taken care of.

Deputy Chief Butcher adds, “They really do care about these people.” Nobody wants to see anybody suffer, nobody wants to see anybody hurt, and I think this is going a long way to show we actually do care.”