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Mangano proposes supervisor for jail medical care provider

This aerial view shows the Nassau County

This aerial view shows the Nassau County Jail in East Meadow. Credit: / Kevin P. Coughlin

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano has sent a proposal to the legislature to hire a California nonprofit to oversee the jail’s embattled medical care provider.

The $45,000 proposal follows a July lawsuit by New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman that accuses jail vendor Armor Correctional Health Services of providing deficient treatment to inmates at the East Meadow facility.

Documents show Mangano has proposed hiring Community Oriented Correctional Health Services “to provide technical assistance in supervising the workflow and contract compliance” of Armor at the jail through year’s end, and with an option to renew the contract.

“Time is of the essence in light of concerns relating to the filing of the action against Armor … and the allegations therein concerning contractual obligations,” the proposed contract’s summary reads.

Mangano said in a statement Friday the Oakland-based firm “has extensive experience in correctional health care and will serve as additional oversight” for Armor.

The legislature’s Rules Committee would have to approve the contract, and it won’t meet until mid-September unless a special meeting is called, officials said.

The proposed contract also says the county may require additional services “during the transition of contractual health services” at the jail.

Mangano’s administration previously put out a request for proposals for a new jail health care contract. Armor’s contract is up in May, but the agreement also says the county can end the contract for any reason with a month’s written notice, for “cause” immediately upon Armor’s receipt of written notice, or upon written agreement of both parties.

Community Oriented Correctional Health Services’ president Steven Rosenberg, 66, said Friday his organization looks at inmates as “community members that are temporarily displaced,” and aims to “provide those detainees with an appropriate level of care that meets community standards.”

The nonprofit submitted documents to the county saying they’ve worked with correction officials in Washington, D.C., and Vermont, and consulted on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s task force aimed at reducing the number of people with behavior health issues in the criminal justice system.

Legislature Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) said Democrats still were calling for Armor’s contract to be dumped but “at a minimum, we need someone to monitor the health vendor.”

Legis. Laura Curran (D-Baldwin) added: “What we’re looking for is accountability and this looks like a step towards it.”

Schneiderman’s lawsuit, which Armor has said it will vigorously fight, also claims county officials failed to take any action to enforce Armor’s contract as the vendor defrauded Nassau taxpayers out of millions of dollars.

Since Armor first won a Nassau contract in mid-2011, the state Commission of Correction has found the company provided inadequate care in connection with five inmate deaths.

Nassau Comptroller George Maragos said last month he stopped payments to Armor and wouldn’t approve any until the company provides statistics showing it meets performance standards in its contract.

Comptroller’s spokeswoman Carla Hall D’Ambra said Friday that Maragos still hadn’t paid Armor’s July bill of about $960,000, and hadn’t gotten bills for the same amount for August or September — which usually would have come in by now.

The comptroller’s office also hasn’t received any Armor performance metrics, she said.

But Armor spokeswoman Yeleny Suarez said Friday the company had provided July performance indicators to the Sheriff’s Department and it was the first time the department had asked for such information “since contract inception.”

Of a potential contract overseer, Suarez added: “Armor is accustomed to working with contract monitors in a multitude of its contracts and will work diligently with any such party in Nassau.”

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