Friday, June 08, 2007

Galveston County hands jail health contract to med school with poor corrections record

In a move that leaves this writer scratching his head wondering, "What were they thinking?," the Galveston County Commissioners Court entered a new cost cutting contract for jail healthcare with the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, even though UTMB's healthcare delivery at the Dallas Jail and Texas prisons has been poor and generated lawsuits. Wrote Laura Elder ("UTMB wins county jail contract," June 7):
Galveston County Attorney Harvey Bazaman said Correctional Medical Services had done an adequate job, but county officials wanted to see if there were financial savings to be had by putting the contract out for bid.

County officials project that they’ll save nearly $250,000 a year by awarding the contract to the medical branch, Bazaman said, adding that five organizations competed for the contract.
Dallas County just ditched UTMB as their healthcare provider after a federal investigation found major shortcomings, including failing to treat mental health issues and numerous inmates who “routinely miss doses of life-sustaining medications.” (See the Dallas Observer's coverage.) For every month you spend in the Dallas County jail, you're more likely to acquire a staph infection than you would be to roll snake eyes playing dice.

At Texas prisons, UTMB officials told the Sunset Advisory Commission last fall that they're "very close" to no longer providing a constitutional level of care because they lowball budgets, but Galveston County CHOSE them because of their low bid.

One lawsuit will more than make up for any savings from the contract. This seems like asking for trouble, doesn't it?

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

My experience as a formmr Warden with TDC/TDCJ indicates UTMB dominates all decisions in Correctional medicine. Politics; "ain't they wonderful!".

Retired 2004

Anonymous said...

And UTMB is now taking over psychiatric services for TYC starting September 1st... And they're trying to fix TYC?!?!?

Betsy said...

As Galveston has a new jail facility with (hopefully) a better set up for medical care than Dallas County, and this bid was made after the nightmare of Dallas, I'd think it might work well. Decent care for the folks in the jail from people who are used to it. If you've ever been treated at UTMB, you can't help but notice that you're sharing facilities with shackled patients.

Anonymous said...

Anon., remember that along with Texas Tech, UTMB has had the medical care contract for the TYC for some time. Also remember that they didn't exactly come off as heroes in the TYC scandal, although they sure tried to spin their role that way. Well, at first, anyway. That was before they were asked the softest of questions and started weaseling and pointing fingers.

Anonymous said...

What is most interesting is that UTMB was the third choice for the contract, which speaks for itself, don't you think? Makes you wonder what caused the change. I suspect we, as taxpayers, will all eventually find out the answer to that. I doubt we will be saving any money.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

That IS interesting - what's your source on the third bid information? To pick somebody with that record when they're not the low bid is really puzzling.

Anonymous said...

As a former employee of Correctional Medical Services, I can tell you they did more than an adequate job. The only reason that UTMB got this job is one of the jail board members has a financial intrest in UTMB's financial advancement.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@8:05 - Can you give us more details, please? Who? What financial arrangement?

Anonymous said...

As I heard it while I worked there, the only reason that correctional medical services did not automatically have their contract renewed as they have done for the past 8 years, is that the jail board accuired a new board member who is also a share holder in UTMB and campained to have UTMB take over the jail. UTMB had the contract years ago, and did not do a good job at all as far and the inmates and the employees go. Look into the one who has been quoted as to saying that "correctional medical services has done an adequate job." That statement is from someone who has another agenda.