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Nassau jail provider tells employees their jobs will end in May

Nassau County Jail in East Meadow is seen

Nassau County Jail in East Meadow is seen in an aerial view on June 20, 2016. Credit: / Kevin P. Coughlin

The Nassau jail’s inmate medical provider has told its local employees their jobs will end with its May contract termination, but county officials said they could activate a provision in the agreement to compel the company to stay longer to aid in the transition to a new vendor.

Armor Correctional Health Services told employees in a Feb. 28 letter, which Newsday obtained from sources familiar with the matter, that workers’ jobs “will be terminated as of midnight on May 31” because it won’t manage the jail’s medical program as of June 1.

But officials in Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano’s administration said Monday that they were prepared, if needed, to rely on a provision of Armor’s contract they said could force the vendor to stay past May 31 to assist in the transition to a new medical provider.

“They are obligated, in the contract . . . to transition, which supersedes the end of a contract,” Deputy County Executive Charles Ribando said in an interview.

While the contract doesn’t say how long the transition should take, Mangano officials said Armor previously said it would take about 60 days.

On March 1, Mangano’s administration released a request for proposals seeking bids from New York State-licensed hospitals or hospital affiliates for a new two-year jail health contract.

The RFP says the county wants to award the contract to a new vendor April 21. Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin said Armor “will be obligated to stick around from when that provider is approved, for a 60-day transition period.”

An Armor spokeswoman Monday reiterated the company’s past position that it is “not in negotiations with Nassau County in regards to a contract extension.” She didn’t respond to other questions.

The administration had pitched a month-to-month contract extension to Armor as a potential stopgap to meet inmates’ medical needs while continuing to seek a new vendor.

Legis. Siela Bynoe (D-Westbury) said in a statement Tuesday she wasn’t surprised the county was “in this position.” She also referenced Democratic county lawmakers’ call last March for federal intervention at the jail for what they dubbed a civil rights crisis involving inadequate medical care.

“The administration’s failure to act expeditiously to find a high-qualified vendor to replace Armor illustrates their lack of regard for the inmates, and further supports our request for the Department of Justice to intervene,” Bynoe added.

Armor’s tenure at the jail has been marked by controversy since the county started a public-private partnership with the for-profit vendor in mid-2011. The state Commission of Correction found the company provided inadequate care in connection with the deaths of five Nassau inmates.

Armor, which has defended its care, also settled a lawsuit last year that New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman brought against the company alleging widespread inmate care deficiencies. In addition, the families of four of the Nassau inmates who have died in custody since 2011 are suing the county and Armor in federal court.

Ribando said Monday the county hadn’t yet received any contact from potential bidders on the new contract, but officials are prepared to take interested parties on a jail tour Friday.


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