Spokane County commissioners will decide Tuesday whether to negotiate a new contract with NaphCare Inc., the Alabama company that provides medical care for county jail inmates.
NaphCare was the subject of a Spokesman-Review investigation published in February. Former jail nurses accused the company of routinely delaying treatment in an effort to save money, and the investigation found that one inmate spent 40 days in jail without treatment for a badly broken elbow. Other inmates described similar experiences.
NaphCare has vehemently denied wrongdoing, however, and county officials say the jail’s medical operations have improved dramatically since the company was hired last May to fix a shortage of nurses.
In November, the county asked 11 correctional health care providers to bid on a new contract. Three did so, and the bids were scored by a panel of four county officials and one consultant.
NaphCare, which is headquartered in Birmingham, received a top score of 64, while Pennsylvania-based Correctional Medical Care scored 29 and Colorado-based Correctional Health Partners scored 27. Details of the scoring process weren’t immediately available.
Dr. Marc Stern, a correctional health care expert at the University of Washington whom the county hired as a consultant, said he couldn’t comment on the scoring process until a new contract is finalized, and a jail official didn’t respond to an inquiry on Monday.
When the Idaho Board of Corrections selected a new medical contractor in 2013, NaphCare received the best score for cost but fell short in an evaluation of the company’s policies and procedures. Idaho instead chose Tennessee-based Corizon Health Inc. to care for inmates in state prisons.
County officials estimate the contract would be worth more than $5.1 million per year, but that figure could change if the commissioners allow negotiations to move forward.