Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters is defending his decision to stay with a privatized healthcare company at the Duval County jail. The last company was accused of providing poor care, so the Sheriff removed two key jail staff members and is now switching companies.
Action News Jax obtained the contracts for Armor Health and the new company, NaphCare, they are nearly identical but there are some differences.
“They are similar, but the issue was the auditing system wasn’t what it should have been and that’s from our end, we’ve addressed that, and we’ve changed that and they’re going to be held accountable if there’s a problem,” Waters said.
NaphCare’s base pay for the first year is over $20 million compared to Armor’s $17 million, NaphCare has a three-year deal that JSO can extend to five, while Amor had a five-year deal. If JSO decides to extend to five years, it would be worth over $110 million.
The contract includes an additional line to the “renegotiations” section saying if JSO wants a change in service and NaphCare agrees, two can renegotiate prices.
JSO included stiffer penalties if NaphCare doesn’t perform to the contract. Some of those penalties are $50 more per inmate than armors and an extra $5,000 if they fail to retain accreditation.
The changes come hours after the Tributary reported a spike in deaths since 2017 when Armor took over and months after the death of 54-year-old Dexter Barry. His family attorney told us he died 3 days after posting bond because during his time in jail, he wasn’t given the rejection medication he needed, we spoke with him last week after the changes.
“It’s a welcome change but at the same time I’m cautious,” Attorney Andrew Bonderud said. “I will withhold judgment on what seems to be also a little impulsive to enter a five-year $110 million contract with another private-for-profit healthcare company.”
The Sheriff says a private healthcare company is the best option.
“Healthcare inside of a correctional facility is tough, you’d like to believe we have the expertise to do it ourselves, but we do not. I think it’s best to handle to have a company that does it professionally,” Waters said.
Sheriff Waters also told Action News Jax they are going to watch closely to make sure things are upheld to the standards set by both the accrediting agency and JSO.
Below is the full contract for both jail healthcare providers:
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