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Nassau jail medical provider won’t walk out, official says

The Nassau County Correctional Center in East Meadow

The Nassau County Correctional Center in East Meadow in August 2016. Photo Credit: / Kevin P. Coughlin

The Nassau jail’s controversial medical provider, which had threatened a walkout Friday if county officials didn’t meet certain conditions, won’t be exiting the East Meadow facility early, according to a sheriff’s spokesman.

“We have received assurances from senior Armor officials at the facility that they will fulfill their contractual obligations through the transition to a new health care provider,” Sheriff’s Department Capt. Michael Golio said Friday in a statement.

County Executive Edward Mangano’s administration said last week that officials wouldn’t reopen the contract with Armor Correctional Health Services to make any changes.

That followed Armor’s Sept. 27 letter that said the company would stay beyond Friday and until its contract ends in May, “but must have assurances” the county would meet conditions that included paying it more and providing legal indemnification for any future malpractice claims. An Armor executive also wrote that Nassau officials should “cease and desist” from talking about the company “in the media.”

But Golio’s statement Friday added that “there have not been any changes to the terms of the existing contract and all of the contractual requirements remain in effect.”

Sheriff Michael Sposato, a Mangano appointee who runs the jail, previously said he had no backup plan if Armor exited early and inmate advocates worried the jail was on the brink of a health care crisis.

“We do not comment on contractual matters,” Armor said in a statement Friday that added its “continued focus is on patient care and our employees.”

Armor settled a lawsuit Tuesday with the state attorney general, who alleged after a series of inmate deaths that the Florida-based vendor provided “dangerously inadequate” care and ripped off taxpayers by still collecting public money for its services. Armor admitted no wrongdoing or liability, but will pay a $350,000 fine and won’t be able to bid for New York contracts for three years.

The state Commission of Correction has found Armor provided deficient care in connection with five Nassau inmate deaths since first winning a county contract, worth about $11 million a year, in mid-2011. The oversight agency also is investigating the six Nassau jail deaths from this year.

Armor’s Sept. 27 threat followed a similar warning it issued Sept. 7, saying it would pull its operations out of the jail no later than Friday if the county didn’t pay roughly $2 million of its invoices by Sept. 9.

On Sept. 9, Nassau Comptroller George Maragos authorized about half that payment, before approving a transfer of the rest of the funds on Sept. 26 — minus about $167,000 in performance penalties. He halted Armor’s regular monthly payments after the state attorney general’s July lawsuit, which said county officials didn’t enforce Armor’s contract performance terms.

The comptroller paid Armor’s July and August invoices after the company provided performance data. The vendor’s September bill is in Maragos’ office, but a spokeswoman said payment is pending his approval.

In the meantime, Mangano’s administration is negotiating with a Tennessee company to possibly take over as jail medical vendor after a committee recommended the for-profit entity from three bidders for a new contract. Both the county legislature and the Nassau Interim Finance Authority would have to approve such a contract.


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