Private health provider takes over service at SLO County Jail

San Luis Obispo County officers gathered Friday to usher in a “new chapter” within the historical past of the controversial County Jail, formally handing over inmate healthcare duties to a contractor.

Wellpath, a Tennessee-based firm that focuses on offering medical and psychological health care in addition to dental companies for sufferers in correctional settings, formally took over duties at the ability at 12 a.m. Friday.

“The transition is occurring as we speak still, but they have hit the ground running,” Sheriff Ian Parkinson stated at a ribbon-cutting ceremony in entrance of the jail Friday. “I’m really looking forward to what’s to come for our healthcare within the jail.”

The switch of accountability comes after roughly two years of heavy scrutiny and requires reforms in how the county treats inmates following a collection of high-profile in-custody deaths of inmates with continual bodily and psychological health wants.

Those embrace a 36-year-old schizophrenic man who died two years in the past after being left in a restraint chair for 46 hours.

Since January 2012, 13 inmates have died whereas in custody, and the jail at present has the sixth-highest inmate dying price within the state. The FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice have opened separate investigations into allegations of civil rights violations and the jail’s requirements of inmate care, which stay ongoing.

The county’s personal health company has traditionally offered inmate care, however a number of components have led to retention issues and a scarcity of certified workers to adequately serve the jail’s every day common of about 600 inmates.

“The component we were missing was the experience and the management of a very difficult task of providing healthcare in a facility,” Parkinson stated.

With Wellpath taking over, county officers predict the brand new stage of care offered at the jail won’t solely exceed California minimal requirements, however a brand new organizational construction will allow officers at completely different ranges to reply instantly to emergencies, presumably saving lives.

The contractor’s efficiency shall be overseen by the county’s chief medical officer — a place created only a yr in the past — and an government committee of the county’s high brass, together with Parkinson and County Chief Administrative Officer Wade Horton.

Wellpath is now one of many nation’s largest contract healthcare suppliers for correctional services after it fashioned out of a merger in November between Correct Care Solutions and Correctional Medical Group Companies.

A information launch from the Sheriff’s Office says that Correctional Medical Group Companies has lengthy served as one of many main healthcare suppliers for California jails, and with the merger, Wellpath’s roughly 14,000 clinicians and professionals serve about 270,000 sufferers in 37 states throughout the U.S. and Australia.

Wellpath Chief Operations Officer Cindy Watson stated at Friday’s ceremony that Wellpath can have a transitional staff of about 50 further staffers on-site with its native workers for the subsequent 45 days to make sure all goes easy.

“Even though we at Wellpath have done transitions like this for decades, I think that this is probably one of the most organized, well-coordinated implementations and transitions that we’ve done ever,” Watson stated.

The county board of supervisors unanimously accepted Wellpath’s contract in September. The $6.7 million deal for the primary yr contains medical, behavioral health, and dental companies for all inmates, in addition to a jail-based psychological health competency remedy program.

“Last year was a tough year, not just for our folks here in the Sheriff’s Office and custody, but for the entire community,” County Supervisor Adam Hill stated Friday. “I think it’s really hard to capture how much work, from all the people involved, has gone into this.”

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