DeLand, FL – The Volusia County Council signs off on potentially paying more taxpayer money to ensure the quality of health care for inmates at the county jail.
By unanimous vote during today’s meeting in DeLand, all seven members agreed in principle to have Centurion Detention Health Services take over for Armor Correctional Health Services, the Miami company which has provided dental and health services at Volusia County Jail since 2015.
Centurion’s current proposal will cost just over $40 million dollars if it’s kept for five years, including nearly $8 million in 2019, the first year it would take over for Armor. The VCC will need to give final approval once negotiations between the county and Centurion are concluded.
The Virginia company – currently responsible for the care of around 150,000 inmates in eight states, including 88,000 in Florida – was the costliest of the four providers who made presentations to the VCC during the afternoon session. Armor was offering to stay in place for the same amount of years at just under $37 million.
VCC Chair Ed Kelley said during the meeting that his vote for Centurion factored in recent lawsuits filed against Armor for its care of VCJ inmates as well as 12 suicides at the county jail since 2013.
“I’m not looking totally at the lowest possible cost,” Kelley added. “I’m looking for results, quality care, reducing some of the things that we’ve experienced in years gone by.”
The number of suicides was a big factor behind the VCC’s decision to bid out the contract again and to bring in an expert to review VCJ’s policies in the hopes of preventing more inmate suicides in the future.
Armor – which provides health services to over 40,000 inmates in eight states – had its contract recently renewed by the county last June with amendments designed to improve inmate care, including 20 more doctors’ hours per week and using webcams if needed during patient consultations.
During its presentation, Armor officials vowed to do a better job with suicidal inmates, but those arguments fell on deaf ears. In the vote taken afterward by the VCC, Armor placed 3rd overall, finishing ahead of Alabama-based Naphcare and behind Pennsylvania-based Wexford Health Sources.
District 4 Representative Heather Post and District 3’s Billie Wheeler joined Kelley in making Centurion their first choice. Everyone else on the VCC had Centurion as their second pick except for District 1’s Pat Patterson, who had Centurion 3rd. Armor was the first choice for Patterson and District 5’s Fred Lowry, while At-Large Rep Joyce Cusack and Denys wanted to go with Wexford.