Charleston Co. awards contract for inmate medical provider despite objections
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - In an 8-0 vote, Charleston County Council approved a new contract for a new medical services provider for the Al Cannon Detention Center, replacing Wellpath.
That company’s contract is set to expire in less than 90 days.
Now, contract negotiations will begin with Kansas-based VitalCore Health Strategies.
The decision, while expected, was met with disappointment from Charleston County Sheriff Kristin Graziano who attended the meeting.
“County staff knew full well who we were engaged with and who we wanted to apply for that yet they did not,” she said in reference to MUSC.
Carter Coyle, a spokeswoman for the hospital, said that they were never formally invited to apply for the bid.
“We, unfortunately, cannot consider anybody unless they go through the procurement process and that is the law and that’s how we have to proceed,” Chairman Herbert R. Sass III said. " I know they’ve gone through the process in the proper way to get to this point. I don’t see any other way to go forward other than the vendor that we have suggested to get through tonight and be voted on.”
Graziano has said that her agency had difficulty cooperating with Wellpath.
“Under the current contract, the current provider could not provide the care regardless of what the contract says, they couldn’t provide the care. I’m forced to rely on my staff to be the eyes and ears for these folks and it’s just very, very frustrating that they won’t listen to us,” she said following the council’s decision.
Last week, the finance committee voted 7-0 in favor of awarding the contract to VitalCore after a selection committee ranked it first out of three bidders by a significant margin.
Two council members, Jenny Honeycutt and Henry Darby did not attend that meeting. Honeycutt was also not present for the county council meeting.
“We’re going to help whoever comes in there transition smoothly and provide the services, but we will hold them accountable,” Graziano said. “I’m going to do what I have to do, because the care of the people in my facilities is too important,” she added.
VitalCore provided the following statement on Wednesday:
Until the contract is fully executed, this remains an active procurement that prevents us from speaking about the contract. We are confident that we will bring a new perspective to Charleston County and look forward to working with the Sheriff and staff as well as all County stakeholders to stabilize the delivery of inmate healthcare. We plan to meet with the County staff and the Sheriff as soon as possible to begin the transition process.
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