Committee seeks inmate medical care proposals

HOLLIDAYSBURG — A committee formed to solicit proposals for inmate medical care at the Blair County Prison is hoping to attract responses from at least three companies.

The county’s contract with Prime Care Inc., its current provider of inmate medical care, is expiring at the end of the year. While Prime Care is expected to submit a renewal request, the committee formed to seek proposals is interested in hearing from additional companies.

“We identified three that we think we’ll get proposals from,” Deputy Warden Abbie Tate reported recently to the prison board on behalf of the committee.

While additional inmate medical care companies may exist, Tate said they may not be interested in the contract based on the smaller size of the county prison. As of Thursday, the prison was housing 332 inmates.

Based on current plans, the county’s request for inmate medical care proposals is expected to be available by Oct. 5. Responses are due to be submitted by Oct. 27, giving the committee time to review the details before outlining a recommendation to the prison board at its Nov. 16 meeting.

In developing the request for proposals from companies interested in providing medical care, commissioners Chairman Bruce Erb, a member of the committee, said efforts were made to develop a scoring system that can be used to evaluate each responder’s proposed services.

Warden Michael Johnston said that when the prison sought a contract for inmate telephone services, it prepared a request for proposals that also involved a scoring sheet.

That experience, Johns­ton said, helped when it came to preparing the request for proposals for inmate medical care.

While introduction of the Encartele telephone system initially generated complaints about higher costs for family members calling inmates, prison board Chairman Daniel Milliron and Tate said they remain open to such complaints and any additional comments about the new phone system.

Tate said her review so far has found that the rates being charged by Encartele are on “the low end of the range.” The new company’s service has also been praised as more reliable with fewer dropped calls and additional options.

“It will continue to be monitored,” Tate said.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.