Worcester Telegram & Gazette
By Lee Hammel
‘Six-figure saving’ in budget predicted.
The Worcester County Jail and House of Correction has reached an agreement with a Birmingham, Ala., company to provide medical services for the approximately 1,200 inmates there.
Naphcare Inc., which provides correctional health-care services to 68,000 inmates in 22 states, will provide care in the West Boylston facility that is currently being given by health workers employed directly by the sheriff’s department.
“We are in the correctional business, not the health care business. This will significantly improve daily operations and the quality of care,” said Sheriff Lewis G. Evangelidis. “In addition to the obvious advantages of partnering with an outside vendor who specializes in correction medical care, we are given the security of a fixed annual cost and a contract that eliminates legal liability for medical care.”
Mr. Evangelidis, who became sheriff in January, said, “With over $6 million in budget cuts since FY ’09, there is no way to continue with business as usual. As annual medical billings approach $5 million, Naphcare will provide better service, lower costs by streamlining the delivery of care, as well as provide comprehensive oversight aimed at eliminating inefficiencies that have plagued an unpredictable budget-buster for years.”
The contract is for one year with an option to renew for three years. The amount of the contract is being negotiated, but Jail Superintendent Shawn P. Jenkins expects it to be closer to $4 million than to $5 million.
It will result in a “six-figure saving” in a $39.7 million budget, he said. “We have a legal obligation to provide extensive medical services to inmates, but skyrocketing costs in every aspect of inmate care have highlighted the inefficiencies of running our own medical department. After an extensive seven-month review, as well as meeting with other sheriffs and several vendors, this is clearly the most efficient and effective path forward.”
Service will begin 30 days after the contract is signed. Naphcare will provide 28 medical providers, including a doctor, a dentist, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, X-ray technicians, and a health administrator. Employees in the medical department number “in the low 30s,” Mr. Jenkins said.