Clearfield County Commissioners on Tuesday unanimously voted to hire PrimeCare Medical Inc. of Harrisburg to provide medical care at the Clearfield County Jail.
Commissioners entered into a three-year limited health services agreement with PrimeCare Medical at a cost of $26,400 per month, or $316,808 a year.
Commissioner John Sobel, chairman, participated in the meeting via video teleconferencing.
In return, the company will provide 24-hours a day on call services of a health service administrator, which is either an RN or LPN. It will also include a second full-time LPN position and either a physician, a physicians assistant or a certified registered nurse practitioner for up to six hours per week, according to county Solicitor Heather Bozovich.
The company would also include billing and consulting services for insurance purposes, as well as pharmacy services to the jail.
Commissioner Dave Glass said the commissioners made the move because for a while, the county has been unable to provide all of the required medical services to inmates because of the difficulty in hiring nurses to work at the jail.
PrimeCare Medical is used by many jails in the state including the Jefferson County, Centre County and Crawford County jails.
Instead of hiring its own doctors and nurses at the jail, the county is hiring Primecare Medical Inc. to provide medical services at the jail, Glass said.
“Franky, we had to find another option,” Glass said.
Commissioner Tony Scotto said the company has been in business for a while and are familiar with all of the state rules and regulations regarding correctional institutions.
When asked if the new contract would cost the county more than it was paying for health care currently, Glass said it will likely cost more, but the company will be providing more services to inmates.
Glass said they wouldn’t know for sure if the new service is more expensive for another six months or so because some services, like pharmacy services and X-ray services, will be less expensive with PrimeCare Medical.
Because of the new agreement with PrimeCare Medical, the commissioners voted to give the current physician at the jail, Dr. Phuong Wirths, a 90-day notice of termination of their agreement with him to provide services at the jail.
Glass said the move is not a reflection on Wirths or the service he provided at the jail, and he said it is possible that Wirths could continue working at the jail — but he would have to work out a contract with PrimeCare Medical.
The county paid Wirths $124,000 per year in the post.