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Nassau County to negotiate with new jail health care vendor

This aerial view shows the Nassau County Jail

This aerial view shows the Nassau County Jail in East Meadow on June 20, 2016. Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin / FlyingDogPhoto

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano’s administration is starting contract negotiations with a Tennessee-based company to potentially take over inmate medical services at the jail after a selection committee’s recommendation of the vendor, officials said Friday.

New York Correct Care Solutions Medical Services came out on top after the county received three bids in connection with its request for proposals from March, according to Deputy County Executive Ed Ward.

He said Mangano is looking for a new vendor to start “the first of the year.”

The negotiations will follow an ultimatum this week from the jail’s current medical provider, Armor Correctional Health Services, which again is threatening to walk out of the facility by early this month if the county doesn’t meet certain conditions.

Armor’s terms included that the county should indemnify it against any future medical malpractice claims, pay more for its services and stop speaking to the media about the company. But Ward stressed Friday that Mangano’s administration won’t reopen Armor’s contract for any amendments.

Armor has come under intense scrutiny, including from the state Commission of Correction, following a series of inmate deaths since the company first won a Nassau contract in mid-2011.

New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman sued the company in July, alleging it has provided “dangerously inadequate” medical services and that county officials failed to enforce performance terms of its contract.

Public records show the newly recommended vendor, which is based in Nashville, recently reported annual sales of about $461 million. The for-profit company’s website says it has contracts in 38 states and also does business in Australia, providing medical and mental health services for nearly 250,000 patients, including in local, state and federal correctional facilities.

In New York, the company has contracts with the jails in Monroe, Onondaga, Orange and Westchester counties, a Commission of Correction spokeswoman said Friday.

Correct Care Solutions spokesman Jim Cheney said Friday that the company respectfully declined to make any comments, saying it didn’t have an executed contract with Nassau at this point.

Federal court records show that the company has been involved in a significant amount of litigation. In one ongoing case that sparked a lawsuit, the company also faced criticism from the state commission after a Westchester County jail inmate’s 2013 death.

The state commission found last summer that the 36-year-old inmate’s death “may have been prevented” if he’d gotten proper emergency medical care and gone to a hospital in a timely manner.

The oversight agency also said the company’s nursing staff mismanaged the inmate’s chest pain complaints, and a doctor made a “presumptive diagnosis” on the man without actually examining him.

The commission recommended that the company’s chief executive officer do several quality assurance reviews and report back regarding corrective action plans.

If Mangano forwards a contract proposal with the company to the county legislature, the body’s Rules Committee would have to approve it, along with the Nassau County Interim Finance Authority, according to administration officials.

County Legis. Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport), the minority party’s leader and a Rules Committee member, said Friday that Democrats “want to do our due diligence and look into the litigation.”

“Obviously, quality of care and treatment of inmates is going to be something that’s high on our priority list,” he added.

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