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Niagara County changing jail medical providers again

LOCKPORT – Niagara County’s jail, where three inmates died since medical care was privatized, will be getting its third provider of inmate medical services in less than a year.

The County Legislature is to vote during a special meeting Monday to hire PrimeCare Medical of Harrisburg, Pa., starting Aug. 1, after Correctional Medical Care of Blue Bell, Pa., gave the county notice that it was pulling out of its contract.

Correctional Medical, which started work at the Lockport jail Oct. 31, after the three inmate deaths, “presented us with a price increase and gave us a termination notice,” said Legislator David E. Godfrey, R-Wilson, chairman of the Community Safety and Security Committee. “We gave them the opportunity to give us a reasonable price,” Godfrey added.

Correctional Medical was hired last year for a first-year price of $2.18 million. Sheriff James R. Voutour said the company asked for a boost to $2.55 million.

Correctional Medical President Emre Umar said his company had brought more staff to the jail and sought more funding “to provide the services we felt were necessary.”

“The county couldn’t afford it,” Umar added. “We had a great relationship with the sheriff.”

“They performed well. We were very pleased,” Voutour said.

Correctional Medical had replaced Armor Correctional Health Services of Miami. Three inmates died on Armor’s watch, including two in December, 2012 and one in October, 2014, leading to survivors’ lawsuits over alleged inadequate care. Armor settled one for $100,000, and the other two cases are still open.

The state Attorney General’s Office sued Armor July 12 over 12 inmate deaths in Nassau County, in an effort to bar Armor from doing future business in New York.

Niagara County Manager Richard E. Updegrove said the decision to make another change came from the Sheriff’s Office. “It’s been the policy of the Legislature to defer to the sheriff regarding the operations of the jail,” Updegrove said.

Godfrey said the county checked back with the unsuccessful bidders from last year and sought new quotes.

Voutour said PrimeCare, like Correctional Medical, will have a three-year contract with the right to annual price adjustments and a 90-day notice if it wants to pull out.

Also Monday, the County Legislature is expected to approve a $132,598 service contract with Motorola Solutions for the county’s emergency radio network. Motorola supplied $10 million worth of equipment, including five new antenna towers, and provided the county with a free year of maintenance. Godfrey said that deal ran out in June, but the new contract will last only until the end of this year.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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