A Nassau legislative committee voted Monday to hire a health monitor to oversee the jail’s inmate medical provider amid intense criticism of the vendor’s care and its threat of a walkout.
The county legislature’s Rules Committee unanimously approved a $45,000 contract to hire a California nonprofit to supervise Armor Correctional Health Services.
Documents from County Executive Edward Mangano’s administration said Community Oriented Correctional Health Services would supervise Armor’s workflow and contract compliance through year’s end
The contract also includes a renewal option and said the county may require more services during the transition to a new medical vendor at the jail.
Before the vote, Democrats spoke of a series of jail inmate deaths and grilled administration officials on what they described as serious problems with Armor’s care.
After the vote, Legis. Siela Bynoe (D-Westbury) said she voted for the contract because she believed “a second set of eyes” was needed “to try and preserve life.”
In July, state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman filed a lawsuit accusing Armor of providing “dangerously inadequate” treatment at the jail.
The state Commission of Correction has found Armor’s care deficient in connection with five Nassau inmate deaths.
It remains unclear whether Armor, whose contract ends in May, will pull its operations out of the jail shortly.
Last week, the company sent Nassau Comptroller George Maragos a letter threatening to leave no later than Oct. 7 if Maragos didn’t authorize about $2 million in payments by Friday to cover its July and August bills.
Maragos authorized a payment of $802,000 Friday after getting documentation that satisfied his concerns for the July bill, but Armor’s August bill remains under review by his office.
Armor wouldn’t comment Friday or Monday about whether it still planned to terminate its contract early after receiving partial payment.
“Armor’s contract remains in place,” Mangano administration lawyer Elizabeth Loconsolo told legislators Monday while answering questions about the health monitor proposal.
Loconsolo is married to Sheriff Michael Sposato, a Mangano appointee who runs the jail, and defended the Sheriff’s Department in some statements to the legislature regarding Armor’s contract.
When Legis. Carrié Solages (D-Elmont) questioned the attorney Monday after she didn’t mention the family tie, presiding officer Legis. Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) broke in and told him he was out of order.
Maragos stopped making payments to Armor after Schneiderman’s lawsuit, saying he first wanted to see statistics showing the company was meeting contract standards.
Schneiderman’s lawsuit also alleged county officials failed to enforce the contract’s performance terms.
Sposato said last week he has no backup plan if Armor leaves early. Mangano’s administration previously put out a request for proposals for a new medical vendor, but the county hasn’t hired anyone yet.
Armor said last month it “will work diligently” with any Nassau contract monitor and declined further comment Monday.