In early February, the Ingham County human services board of commissioners discussed a proposal to reorganize the jail’s medical services. On Feb. 26, it met again with County Sheriff Scott Wriggelsworth and the county health department to re-propose the plan.
The proposal was for the jail to privatize healthcare with Corizon. Following the first proposal, the sheriff and health department were asked to gather more information on Corizon and report back to the board.
After a lengthy debate about the new information, the committee stuck with its recommendation to not allow the jail to switch to a privatized company. According to County Commission Vice-Chairperson Ryan Sebolt, the committee really rejected the idea of switching to Corizon.
To win a county contract, companies need to bid successfully on a county request. According to Robin Naeyaert of District 14, four companies bids, but the jail did not look into the other options enough. The jail chose to push for Corizon, which has many bad reviews, including ones that say its care is “cruel and unusual” according to the Ingham County’s website.
The committee encouraged the jail to keep the medical staff internal for safety reasons, although, according to Thomas Morgan of District 10, it is going to be extremely expensive. Although costs will rise dramatically, the committee has said that its concerns are not about costs.
“Doing this right will be expensive, we should do it right,” said Mark Grebner of District 8.
Although it will be more costly, most committee members said the expenses are worth it to ensure quality care. According to Grebner, it is easy to look past quality care to the inmates for a variety of reasons.
“The least enduring segment of our society, so they are treated worse,” said Grebner.
He said that if employees of Corizon work in a correctional facility in Alabama, they bring the same standards of care to the Ingham County Jail, or wherever they go. This poses an issue because the care would not be to required standards, and Grebner said that the care needs to be better than that for a jail that is next to Michigan State University.
The final decision orders medical care for the jail to be kept local. The county will begin its hiring process within the year in hopes of having enough nurses. The task will be expensive, but committee members expressed confidence that it will have a positive impact.
“You will look back at this contract and say, ‘how did we do it so cheaply for six months?’” said Grebner.