I recently wrote my first column on Correct Care Solutions (CCS), the firm providing medical services at the Durham County jail and the Durham County Youth Home.
Not long after, I got a note from a Dallas-based writer-researcher who has focused on what some call “jailhouse medicine.”
Included in the information and insights Kelley Kingston-Strayer forwarded was a link to a job opening. It showed that as of May 12, CCS was looking for a “Regional Manager - North Carolina - Day.”
The position will be located right at the jail, it says.
What’s intriguing is that the current contract for CCS ends in about five weeks. The company, out of Nashville, Tennessee, is bidding for and may win the new contract, but then again it may not.
Or: does CCS know something we don’t? Why advertise for a high-level position that could disappear before the person hired starts work?
I’ve reported that CCS, which reportedly tripled its revenues from 2011 to 2014, has also faced about 450 federal lawsuits from 2011 to 2015.
I’ve also now learned of a 2015 Justice Department Inspector General audit of the Bureau of Prisons. That review covered, in part, CCS’ performance handling medical services for the huge Harris County Detention Center in Pecos, Texas.
The report said CCS, which in 2014 merged with the provider who’d been in place, had issues with short staffing, billing and benefit payments to employees, and follow-up on internal audits.
I’ve also noted three troubling news items, two in the last month, involving CCS officials or employees.
A WPSD-TV story out of Kentucky on May 12 opened with: “The medical director at the Western Kentucky Correctional Complex in Lyon County has been arrested and charged with multiple counts of rape and other sexual abuse charges.”
The medical director worked for CCS. Her alleged victim, an inmate.
Another, from the Ann Arbor News in Michigan last week, reported that a male nurse who worked for CCS at a county jail was charged with sexually assaulting a female inmate.
And last June, this headline from the Daily News Journal in Tennessee: “CEO of Nashville’s Correct Care Solutions charged with DUI.”
The story reported that “Boyle was driving erratically and almost hit other cars.”
Things aren’t easy for CCS these days.
In Durham, our detention center has come under sharp, sustained protest by some who perceive shortcomings in medical care.
An example, the Jan. 19 death of 29-year old Matthew McCain at the jail. His autopsy, released April 26, said McCain had “a medical history of a seizure disorder, hypertension, and diabetes.”
Listed opinion on the cause of death: “Complications from a seizure disorder.” But the report also states, “A recent fatal seizure cannot be diagnosed through anatomic findings at the time of autopsy.”
The health department has yet to complete its own broader probe into McCain’s death.
There are two other candidates for the new contract: Southern Health Partners (SHP) and TransformHealth CS (for Correctional Solutions).
I took a closer look at SHP out of Chattanooga, and reviewed a number of court cases. One ruling stands out.
An order from the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Kentucky came down in favor of the mother of Tyler Butler. He was jailed after a misdemeanor conviction.
Three days after arriving, Butler died from an “untreated” staph infection the 25-year old had when he entered the Hopkins County Detention Center.
In the majority opinion, Judge Jane Stranch wrote, “the evidence reveals that SHP did not have a training program,” and that its jail staff’s handling of Butler’s illness “demonstrates SHP’s own deliberate indifference .”
The order said “the undisputed facts establish that Butler’s urgent need for treatment was apparent.”
The ruling said that SHP’s then and current CEO, who was summoned to the facility after Butler’s death, stayed “less than two hours and pronounced ‘everything was fine.’”
Director Gayle Harris has said the Durham health department has “not experienced complaints regarding the services provided” by CCS.
However, nothing compels the county to go private or stay private with medical services for those in the jail.
Maybe the time is right to bring health care for detainees at the jail back to the health department.