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Inmate health care providers abruptly suspend Kennebec County prison services over bill controversy

Kennebec County Correctional Facility in Augusta in September 2020. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal File

AUGUSTA — Kennebec County officials announced a separate plan for prison inmates after recent surprise notices from correctional health partners that they would not cover medical services at Kennebec County jails because of a contested bill. said they immediately signed up with a medical service provider.

At a special meeting Friday, Kennebec County commissioners agreed to contract CPS Healthcare, which already provides mental health services in prisons, to provide medical services to inmates for the remaining five months of their CHP contracts. I voted.

Correctional Health Partners, which has served at least three Maine county prisons, has also ended its service in Androscoggin County. The company has notified Kennebec County that it will cease providing services effective August 1.

Officials in Kennebec have already begun the process of setting options for reviewing prison health care providers. Two months ago, the county issued a request for prison health care suggestions. These proposals close at the end of the month.

Kennebec County Correctional Institutions typically have about 140 inmates and about 50 staff members.

Based in Massachusetts, CPS Healthcare serves Sheriff’s offices in Kennebec and York counties.

Kennebec County Administrator Scott Ferguson said, “There’s never a day when medical services aren’t available in prisons.” .”

Attempts to reach the Correctional Health Partners office in Denver this week were unsuccessful as calls to several departments, including media relations, were unsuccessful.

Ferguson said Correctional Health Partners sent the county a “correction” bill asking for payment of about $350,000 (about one-third of the contract price) for additional services.

The extra money was apparently to provide premium wages for nurses. Ferguson said when he sought additional details, such as timesheets and other supporting documents to justify the bill, he was only provided with a spreadsheet containing “random information.”

“This became a legal issue,” said Ferguson.

Ferguson said he was willing to settle with the company because the costs may have been high, but he would like to see more documents than the company has provided so far.

Androscoggin County’s interim county administrator Clarice Proctor said in an email Tuesday that Correctional Health Partners has also issued termination notices to the county.

“We have already found a new company that we can contract with without service interruption,” said Proctor.

She said she had not seen any additional bills of any kind from Correctional Health Partners.

Meanwhile, Knox County is currently in the first year of a three-year agreement with a Colorado-based correctional healthcare partner.

“I still have them at this point, and that’s probably all I can say,” Knox County administrator Andrew Hart said. staff and our attorneys.”

Hart said that, to his knowledge, Correctional Health Partners did not send supplemental bills of any kind to Knox County. I said I was.

Correctional Health Partners is currently recruiting for management, nursing and substance abuse positions in Rockland.

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