Source: Martha Bellisle, Associated Press, April 1, 2017
Inmates and their families are suing Pierce County after they or their loved ones suffered medical problems or died at the jail, and in turn, the county is suing the for-profit company that provided medical services to those inmates, saying it was “wholly inadequate.” A jury likely would find the operation of the jail medical clinic by the company, Correct Care Solutions/Conmed, was “incompetent, unprofessional and morally reprehensible,” Pierce County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Grace Kingman told a Conmed lawyer in a letter acquired by The Associated Press. Pierce County isn’t alone in dealing with legal challenges to Conmed’s medical services. Cowlitz, Clark and Kitsap are among the counties facing lawsuits that allege inmates received poor or questionable medical care while being held at the jails.
… Among the lawsuits’ allegations:
— A Kitsap County Jail inmate died while going through heroin withdrawals.
— A Clark County Jail inmate who suffered from schizoaffective disorder and other mental illnesses wasn’t given his medications and died during an altercation with officers.
— Four inmates died in the Cowlitz County Jail between 2013 and 2014 while needing medical attention.
— A Pierce County inmate didn’t receive his medications and suffered two seizures and a fall that resulted in a traumatic brain injury and fractures to his eye sockets and wrist.
Dan Hamilton, a Pierce County deputy prosecutor, said a yearlong contract with Conmed/Correct Care Solutions resulted in 11 legal claims and four lawsuits over medical care, so the county is fighting back. It hired Conmed to provide medical and dental services at the jail starting in February 2014. But from the start, Conmed failed in a list of areas: significant pharmacy problems; staffing shortages and almost weekly turnover; delay in medical care; failure to provide basic services; and poor record keeping, according to Kingman’s letter to the company. After repeated complaints to the company, Pierce County decided to stop paying Conmed, in hopes that it would fix the problems, Hamilton said. Conmed kept asking for more time, and the county obliged, but the troubles continued, he said. The county eventually ended the contract and found another service provider. Conmed filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit in Pierce County Superior Court seeking payment, but the county continued to refuse to pay, arguing Conmed was the one at fault. …
Pierce County Jail outsources medical care, lays off 15
Source: Steve Maynard, News Tribune, February 14, 2014
The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department began contracting out medical care at the county jail Feb. 1 in a cost-cutting move that laid off 15 full-time workers. …..The department is paying Conmed Inc. $4.3 million to provide medical services at the jail for the last 11 months of this year.….The county’s medical staff members, who were union employees on the county payroll, were told in January 2013 that the Corrections Bureau was looking into contracting the work they do. Dylan Carlson, who represented medical staff for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, could not be reached for comment.
Jail considers private sector medical staff
Source: Steve Maynard, Bellingham Herald, January 29, 2013
The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department is exploring the possibility of saving money by contracting out medical care provided by 38 nurses, physician assistants and other workers at the county jail. Declining jail bookings and revenue, coupled with overtime expenses, are putting pressure on the Sheriff’s Department to reduce costs…. A contract would not include mental health services, Troyer said. Mental health care is “a whole different issue,” he said, and jail staff will continue to provide those services. …