County renews controversial healthcare provider for jail

County renews controversial healthcare provider for jail
July 20
12:00 2017

Forsyth County commissioners renewed Correct Care Solutions LLC’s contract to provide health services for the Forsyth County Detention Center by a 5-2 vote in their Thursday, July 13 meeting.

Correct Care has been a source of controversy after inmates recently died under the company’s care. Its current contract runs out at the end of August and it was the only company to bid for the service. The $13.2 million contract will last three years.

Three residents used the public comment meeting to speak against renewing with Correct Care.

“To adopt this contract I really feel is a slap in the face to the citizens of Forsyth County,” said local NAACP President Rev. Alvin Carlisle.

Commissioner Board Chairman Dave Plyler asked if they didn’t approve the contract, could the county health department provide the service. County Manager Dudley Watts said that it would have to be done in “crisis planning mode” that would create “more exposure” for inmates and would require help from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

Commissioner Don Martin said the county couldn’t take over medical services at the jail that quickly, so the contract had to be renewed.

“We have no choice,” said Martin.

Fleming El-Amin and Everette Witherspoon were the only “no” votes. They cited the deaths, what they’d heard from inmates, a lack of transparency and the amount of lawsuits against the company in their “no” votes.

“I just can’t see consciously approving the contract with Correct Care, at this point,” said El-Amin.

Correct Care Vice President Bill Kissel spoke to commissioners last week, but couldn’t discuss inmate deaths due to litigation and said any internal corrective plan that’s done wouldn’t be made public for the same reason. Witherspoon said his appearance was an uninformative “waste.”

El-Amin wanted to open the bids back up for 60 days to see if they could find another bidder.

Martin said that there is a state and county investigation into the recent deaths that will be made public. He also said that, according to Correct Care, the company has had no legal judgments against them. Nationally, more than 90 percent of medical malpractice cases are settled out of court.

If the county does find another way to provide medical services, it could end the contract with a 180-day notice to Correct Care.

There were also three residents in the public comment session who spoke against the commissioners about moving their meeting times, including Mark Baker, a former commissioner and current Tobaccoville mayor. However, most comments weren’t about the recent rescheduling of formal meetings to Thursdays, but instead about a change the commissioners made last year when they moved meetings from 6 p.m. to the afternoon, which speakers said made them less convenient to attend.

At the meeting’s end, Commissioner Witherspoon suggested airing meetings on TV at 6 pm so more people would see it and Martin liked a resident suggestion to air meetings on the school system channel. Martin also suggested having a public comment session during briefings. The county has started to put videos of past meetings on its website online.

Also during the meeting:

*Commissioners approved a $120,000 grant for IFB Solutions, formally Industries for the Blind, to modernize its optical manufacturing facility into a full service lab that can put anti-reflective (AR) coating on eyeglasses. The money will come from county pay-go funds from access revenues.

*There was a 6-1 vote to accept a bid of $650,000 to purchase 537 N. Spruce St. by Spruce Development LLC, which plans to build apartments on the site. Commissioner Richard Linville was the sole “no” vote. He’s previously said he felt the offer was too far below the property’s appraised $882,700 tax value.

*Commissioners voted 6-1 not to appoint anyone to a currently vacant seat on the Social Services Board pending a study the county has commissioned on consolidating social services and the health department, which could alter or eliminate the boards of both departments. Witherspoon was the sole “no.”

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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