has found a new health care provider for its jail.
Advanced Correctional HealthCare
will take over from current provider MEnD Correctional Care by Feb. 20.
The contract with Advanced was approved unanimously by the county board during a special meeting on Monday.
"We wanted to get ahead of the process here and move as quickly as possible to make sure we weren't without health care," said County Administrator Larry Kleindl.
Kandiyohi County was notified in early December that
MEnD had filed for bankruptcy
and would be ceasing operations by March 1. Jail staff had been looking at other options for providers even earlier, since MEnD founder Dr. Todd Leonard had his medical license suspended in early 2022.
The pool of correctional health care providers isn't very deep and there are even fewer companies willing to work in Minnesota, according to both Akerson and Kliendl.
"We did look at what options we had and found there were very few," Kleindl said. "We also found out we didn't have wiggle room for negotiating."
The new contract came with some sticker shock. The annual contract costs for Advanced to be the medical provider for the county jail is $1,128,999, more than $615,000 higher than the MEnD contract. Kleindl said the 2022 jail budget is going to be tight and county might have to use reserves to fill any gaps.
"These are the types of things you use reserves for, when you have these emergencies that come up, so you can act and make decisions," Kleindl said.
Some of the benefits Advanced is bringing to Kandiyohi County include additional staff hours, registered nurses handing out medication and a response team that would come to the jail to help staff if critical incidents occur.
Advanced is also bringing aboard all the current medical staff at the jail. This was very important to Kandiyohi County, which wants to keep the institutional knowledge that staff has. One of the nurses has worked at the Kandiyohi County since 2013.
"They are well versed in correctional health care, which is different than in a clinic," Akerson said. "We do things differently that we do in public health care."
Advanced was founded in 2002 and provides health care services to approximately 340 jails across 19 states.
"They are a very good company," Akerson said.
Kandiyohi County is mandated to provide health care to its inmates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. While both the state and federal governments require the care, the county does not receive funding to help pay for it.
In the past, medical issues at county jails were usually taken care of with county public health nurses, but now correctional care has gotten more expensive and challenging with increased drug addiction and mental health issues inmates bring into the jail. Counties have no choice but to hire a professional correctional health care provider.
"For many years no one paid attention to this, when someone was incarcerated," Kleindl said. "It has become a major dollar issue and the medical needs of our inmates have grown substantially."