County gives tour to prospective health care providers for Tulsa Co. Jail

TULSA - Companies interested in providing health care at the Tulsa County Jail toured the correctional facility Monday.

The county, which sent out 46 requests for proposal to companies which provide medical care to correctional facilities, is currently contracted with Correctional Healthcare Companies.

Correctional Healthcare Companies, as initially detailed in early July by the 2NEWS investigators, is the subject of numerous lawsuits.

STORY: Tulsa Jail facing lawsuits (http://bit.ly/1aTSNWI)

Dating back to 2007, there are 54 suits against the company across 11 states.

Nineteen of those 54 suits are filed in Oklahoma.

Of that number, nine are filed in Tulsa County, which the 2NEWS investigators found to be the most of any county in the country.

The suits against Correctional Healthcare Companies allege a number of civil rights violations, mistreatment and instances of wrongful death.

There are two alleged instances of rape. First, by another inmate. The second, by an employee of the medical provider.

The suits also allege that two suicides could have been prevented if the proper mental health evaluations were performed.

One of the suits says a patient was denied medication for glaucoma and subsequently went blind.

First District County Commissioner John Smaligo says the county works to provide the best care possible for inmates at the jail.

"We also have a responsibility to those that are under our care and those include inmates to make sure that we're providing good medical care, the best that we can," he said.

The county bases their evaluations of proposals four criteria:

15 percent - Corporate stability
20 percent - Experience and references
20 percent - Quality of response
45 percent - Price

Oklahoma ACLU Legal Director Brady Henderson says private medical care companies are faced with a conundrum: balancing care and maximizing profits.

"It produces over and over situations which inmates and detainees can be horribly mistreated. We're seeing it not just in the areas of medicine but I think throughout the correctional industries," Henderson said.

The county could not provide the specific number of companies that toured the jail Monday.

A new company is expected to enter into a one-year agreement with the county November 1.

That agreement is funded by local tax dollars.

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