OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. - According to a just-released audit, a jail medical services company that 9 Investigates has been covering for years has been caught failing to properly staff another local jail with nurses and technicians.
Armor Correctional Services was already removed in both Lake and Flagler counties, after investigative reporter Karla Ray questioned inmate deaths in both of those jails.
Now, an audit is revealing concerns in Osceola County.
On average, there are 900 inmates inside the Osceola County Jail every day, and citizens pay for Armor Correctional Services to provide them health care.
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A just-released audit shows a lack of oversight by the county’s corrections department allowed Armor to violate terms of its contract, unchecked, for years.
Auditors noted the contract requires the average employee turnover not to exceed 15%, but the turnover rate was 48% in 2015, 113% in 2016 and 93% in 2017.
Auditors also found that Armor was allowed to self-report staffing levels, and the fines owed for improper staffing, without review by corrections officials. When auditors calculated the amount owed by Armor for just two randomly selected months, they found the county was due nearly $5,000.
Auditors also suspect that taxpayers paid for unnecessary health care costs that could have been paid for by inmates’ insurance, due to inadequate contract management.
Corrections leaders "concurred" with most of the recommendations in the audit, including launching an inmate tablet program to allow grievances to be submitted electronically. The goal is to keep better track of some of the most commonly recurring grievances, including not receiving medication on time or at all, and long waiting periods to see a nurse or a doctor.
Corrections Chief Bryan Holt declined an on-camera interview, but sent a statement through a spokesperson, which said, in part: "We will make a determination as to whether to continue our contract with Armor Correctional Health Services at the appropriate time, but we are still reviewing the audit’s findings. We anticipate talking with Armor about the shortcomings revealed by the audit, including its high rate of turnover. Additionally, we are currently in the process of hiring a Healthcare Administrator, who will assist us in determining our next steps."
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