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No qualified bids for Nassau inmate medical care, papers say

This aerial view shows the Nassau County Jail

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

A court filing shows Nassau County has received no bids from qualified vendors for its inmate medical services contract at the county jail, at a time when the agreement of embattled current vendor Armor Correctional Health Services is set to expire May 31.

The lack of interest in the recent request for jail contract proposals emerged in a county filing Monday in response to a recent Armor lawsuit that seeks a judgment saying it won’t have to stay past its contract end date.

Brian Nevin, a spokesman for County Executive Edward Mangano, confirmed Monday that “no qualified bidders” responded to the county’s March 1 request for proposals — a contract the administration had sought to award April 21. He said the administration’s negotiations with Nassau University Medical Center to take over as the jail’s medical provider on an interim basis were “ongoing.”

NUMC spokeswoman Shelley Lotenberg said in a statement Monday that hospital officials “have not reached any decisions and our attorneys are still reviewing the plans,” when asked about the negotiations and if they included the possibility of the hospital becoming the jail’s permanent medical vendor.

Nassau’s Civil Service Employees Association president Jerry Laricchiuta said if inmate medical care returned to NUMC he believed “it would have to be on a long-term basis” because he said a hospital official has estimated it would require hiring 125 people — who would become CSEA union members.

“It’s a testament to the jail’s gross mismanagement that they cannot find anyone willing to do business with them,” County Legislative Minority Party Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) said in a statement Monday. “We need to find a better path for a successful health care plan for the inmates to protect their welfare and civil rights.”

NUMC, which is steps from the jail in East Meadow, provided inmate care before Armor won a contract in mid-2011 in an effort to cut what Mangano said was $7 million a year in costs. Since then, the state Commission of Correction has found the for-profit company — which has defended its care — provided inadequate treatment in the cases of at least five inmates who died in custody.

Last year, Armor settled a lawsuit the state attorney general brought against it that alleged a pattern of deficient inmate care by agreeing to a three-year ban on bidding or entering into New York contracts. Armor says that settlement bars it from staying past May 31st. But in its answer to Armor’s lawsuit, the county pointed in part to a contract clause that administration officials have said means they can compel Armor to stay longer to help with the transition to a new vendor.

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