Hinds Cornered on Inmate Medical Care



The Hinds County Board of Supervisors voted today to approve a contract with Reddix Medical Group for medical care at the county jail. The board met this morning to approve a replacement for the county's existing contract with Reddix, which expired today. After recessing to allow Sheriff Malcolm McMillin time to review Reddix's new, costlier proposal, the board approved the $330,000 agreement this afternoon.

At the board's Jan. 25 meeting, County Administrator Carmen Davis offered two proposals to replace Reddix: one from insurance agent Matt Thomas, who represents Inmate Medical Care Services, and another from Dr. David Williams. Davis recommended Thomas' proposal, but the board postponed a vote to give Sheriff Malcolm McMillin time to review the competing offers.

After the postponement, Thomas and Williams both rescinded their offers. Reddix then submitted its own offer on Jan. 26.

At today's meeting, McMillin said that he needed more time to review Reddix's new offer, having not seen it before the meeting. "In this particular situation, I feel I've been backed up into a corner," McMillin said. "We didn't have this proposal when we had the other two.

Davis said that she was able to negotiate Reddix's original proposed cost down from $363,000 to $330,000 annually. Still, the new Reddix contract would cost the county $116,200 more than its original $213,800 contract with the county.

The increased cost reflects an increase in services, with Reddix proposing to offer an on-call physician around the clock, increase the availability of a gynecologist and provide psychological care not included in the county's current agreement.

Davis also asked Reddix to offer its recommendation for minimum medical staffing levels necessary at the jail. Reddix responded with a plan that would require the county to hire three new nurses but also cut six of the 11 medical officers on staff and replace two bachelor's-level social workers with one master's-level social worker.

County Budget Director Lillie Woods said adding the nurses without also reducing the number of medical officers would cost the county an additional $153,544 this year. Following Reddix's entire staffing recommendation, including cuts, would save the county $89,554, reducing the total cost increase of the new agreement to $26,646.

Davis stressed, however, that neither she nor Reddix were officially recommending the staff reduction.

"I think this is an awfully big proposal here," McMillin said. "It may be a good idea, but I'm certainly not going to agree to it without studying it."

This afternoon, the board also agreed to follow Reddix's proposed staffing plan and hire three additional nurses. Two of those positions will come from attrition in other parts of the county jail's medical staff, however, Davis said.


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