The Forsyth County Board of Commissioners approved on Thursday a new, three-year agreement to keep Correct Care Solutions Inc. on as the health care provider of the Forsyth County jail.
The agreement was approved in a 5-to-2 vote despite strong concerns by several commissioners and citizens.
Commissioners Everette Witherspoon and Fleming El-Amin voted against the proposal and voiced their concerns about recent deaths in the jail.
Since Correct Care Solutions, based in Nashville, Tenn., started providing medical care at the jail in 2012, five people have died there. Also, the company is at the center of two lawsuits in Forsyth Superior Court concerning the level of care it provided jail inmates.
Correct Care Solutions’ current contract with the county will end Aug. 31 and the new one will start Sept. 1.
For the current 2016-17 term, the county is paying Correct Care Solutions $4.2 million to provide medical care for the jail.
The new three-year contract is estimated to be $13.2 million, including $11.6 million for fixed on-site health services and $1.5 million for third party administration costs for local health care provider claims. Prior to the expiration of the initial three-year contract, with a 180-day written notice, the contract may be extended in one-year increments for up to three additional one-year periods, if both parties agree.
The net total savings under the proposed contract with Correct Care Solutions just for the 2018 term would be $63,064 for on-site services compared with extending the current contract with the company for the same period.
Under the new contract, a full-time pharmacy technician will be added for the jail.
and public comments
Al-Wadood Jabbar of Kernersville spoke of an opportunity gap in the community, saying he has a nice home, lives in a nice neighborhood environment and can develop a “bucket list.”
But he said that there are people on the other end of the spectrum, some who live in poor neighborhoods and attend poor schools who “can’t even envision a bucket list because they don’t have a bucket.”
Referencing a possible new agreement with the jail’s current health care provider and its pending lawsuits and the county’s opportunity to save money on a new contract, Jabbar said, “We have to look beyond profits. We’ve got to look beyond the bottom line. We’ve got to start thinking about how can we resolve some of these issues.”
Phillip Carter of Winston-Salem said he spoke for many citizens of Forsyth County who were absent from the meeting because of the change in the board’s meeting schedule.
“However, they agree as many other taxpayers that the aforementioned contract not be awarded since the citizens of Forsyth County have lost all trust in the delivery of adequate and safe and timely medical attention to the inmates of the Forsyth County Detention Center,” Carter said.
Commissioner Don Martin said that the board is alarmed with any death and he believes that because Correct Care Solutions services the inmate population across the country, there should be information available to show “a pattern that’s not acceptable.”
Referencing the current proposal from Correct Care to add a pharmacy technician, Martin said, “I think this is a positive step on Correct Care’s part.”
He also said the contract offers flexibility.
“We cannot take over on Aug. 31,” he said of the county.
Martin also mentioned a letter from Sarah Thomas, Correct Care’s senior counsel, about the company’s litigation history.
Thomas stated in the letter, “Correct Care Solutions has never had a judgment entered against it in any court.”
El-Amin said he was concerned that a representative for Correct Care could not answer some questions put forth from him and other commissioners at the July 6 commissioner’s meeting, including the sharing of its corrective plan in regards to the recent inmate deaths.
“I just can’t agree to give them another contract with Forsyth County as a county commissioner,” he said. “I would prefer to open this up for 60 more days to allow other people to bid on it, at a very minimum.”
Witherspoon said that the contract stains the name of the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office.
“It makes the sheriff’s department look bad,” Witherspoon said. “It makes Forsyth County look bad. It makes the Department of Public Health look bad, and it makes us commissioners look bad.”
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