Jail healthcare company punches out early

Dec. 11—TRAVERSE CITY — County Health Support Services, the company that has provided healthcare services for the Grand Traverse County jail since March, is leaving a couple of weeks earlier than its contracted end-of-December departure.

In its place, Advanced Correctional Healthcare, hired by the GTC Board of Commissioners in November, will start Dec. 19.

Capt. Chris Barsheff, jail administrator, said the change was made because ACH wanted to get up and running before Jan. 1 because it is a holiday.

Barsheff said he met with ACH officials and with Dr. Nazar Abdel Fattah, part owner and medical director of CHSS, and it was mutually agreed that the new company would start in December.

The county board on Wednesday agreed to pay ACH $43,558 for the extra two weeks. The contract approved last month will pay the company $1.223 million for services for 2023. The cost is covered in the existing sheriff's budget, Barsheff said.

CHSS will receive a prorated payment of $44,915.93 for services from Dec. 1 to Dec. 19.

"We're working diligently with (ACH) to make sure the transition is seamless," Barsheff said.

In-person training is taking place with the sergeants so they can work with the provider, he said, adding that, with CHHS, that never took place. All corrections staff also will be given online and in-person training. The company also is working with Catholic Human Services, the agency that provides substance use disorder treatment to inmates, to ensure the Medication Assisted Treatment is uninterrupted during the transition.

"There's a lot of good things we are doing with ACH and we're looking forward to bringing them on board," Barsheff said.

The jail healthcare contract was rebid after CHHS was not living up expectations, Barsheff previously has said. Both companies submitted bids, with the contract given to ACH, which has 20 years of experience in correctional healthcare.

Healthcare staff hired by CHSS did an excellent job, Barsheff said, and many will likely be rehired by ACH, which has committed to using local providers as much as possible.

But some of the positions detailed in the 10-month, $709,199 contract with CHSS were never filled. There also were financial problems. Kona Medical Consulting, hired by CHSS to manage the business, approached county Administrator Nate Alger at the end of summer for payment of $143,856 on behalf of CHSS for services provided by the company.

County administrators also met with Fattah, who was asking for up to $400,000 to provide services through the end of the year. County administrators opted not to pay either company beyond the contracted amount.