Southern Health pulls out of contract with county jail

Published 4:33 pm Friday, October 19, 2007

Southern Health Partners, the healthcare company that had contracted with Pearl River County to provide healthcare services to the county jail at Millard, pulled out of their contract and walked out of the jail Sunday night at midnight, County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin said in a phone interview on Thursday.

The county renewed the contract with the company at the end of September, and the contract itself restarted on the first of October, Lumpkin said.

Lumpkin said the company gave the county its reasons for pulling out as “safety concerns,” but would not elaborate further.

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“We just don’t agree with that reasoning, because all but two of the local employees that were working for the company are still wanting to work there (at the jail),” Lumpkin said.

Lumpkin said the county now will provide its own in-house healthcare. Most of the local employees that were hired by Southern Health Partners will continue to work at the jail, but will now be working for the county.

“We will hire the nursing staff, and we have talked with a doctor about a contract, and we have talked with pharmaceutical companies,” Lumpkin said.

Lumpkin said he was unsure what action, if any, would be taken against the company for pulling out of the contract.

“I will say that there will probably be a decision made about the final payments to the company,” Lumpkin said.

Chief Deputy Julie Flowers of the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department would not give comment on the matter.

Southern Health Partners has provided healthcare services to the county since May of this year. The company also provides similar services to jails across 11 other states.

Representatives for Southern Health Partners had not returned phone calls for comment by press time.