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A budget report for Nassau lawmakers involving the jail’s embattled medical care contractor says the vendor left an inmate’s 2014 death out of statistics prepared for the county, among other inaccurate and conflicting data.
The Office of Legislative Budget Review found Nassau saved an average of about $14.5 million a year from 2011 to 2015 on correction staff overtime and jail medical expenses as inmate numbers also dropped significantly.
Maurice Chalmers, who directs the budget office, said he didn’t know “why there would be a disconnect” in health data County Executive Edward Mangano’s administration said Armor Correctional Health Services had prepared.
The budget report also revealed the county has never imposed a financial penalty on Armor based on its performance, as permitted by contract.
The Miami-based company took over the jail’s medical contract in 2011.
The state Commission of Correction has since found Armor has a pattern of neglectful care, and that the vendor provided inadequate treatment in the cases of four Nassau inmates who died in jail custody.
But Armor has repeatedly cited what it says is a record of providing quality treatment to more than 40,000 inmates in eight states. The company on Friday also defended its operations by saying it was not informed “of any differences” in its monthly health services report.
Chalmers said that type of data was one of two sets of Armor statistics the administration provided for his office’s review.
Armor spokeswoman Yeleny Suarez added that the company “would encourage any unbiased individual who does not have a self-serving agenda to review the county’s report to see the statistical and financial data provided and not conclude that the constitutionally-mandated, taxpayer-funded health care has not greatly improved.”
Last year, the state commission found the death of inmate John Gleeson, 40, of Oceanside — the fatality omitted from data provided for the budget report — was one of two in 2014 that “may have been prevented” with better care.
Chalmers said the omission of Gleeson’s death in the Armor data that the county attorney’s office provided for the study has raised questions.
“The reason that people are looking into this now is because there were deaths at the jail. You’ve got to get that correct,” Chalmers said.
Chalmers, who works for Nassau’s legislature and is independent of the administration, said the two sets of data on inmate health care services had multiple discrepancies. He said the Mangano administration asked that the “flow of information” go only through the county attorney.
“We called the administration and I said, ‘Why don’t these reports match?’ ” he said.
Mangano’s administration then clarified that one set of Armor data was preliminary and the other final, Chalmers said.
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But Chalmers’ report concluded that data prepared by the same source should match.
“While this is unrelated to quality of care, such a reporting discrepancy calls into question the accuracy of statistical tracking,” the report says.
Among numbers missing or unclear in the data were those on inmate grievances, with the report saying numbers suggested an “all-time high” of grievances in 2011 — when Armor took over midyear from Nassau University Medical Center — before numbers fell again later.
Capt. Michael Golio, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office, said the department was “in full compliance with all relevant state reporting requirements and maintains its own records.”
Golio added that the department “does hold Armor accountable for accurate and reliable information.”
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Mangano’s office didn’t comment on the budget report.
Legis. Laura Curran (D-Baldwin), who requested the report as the ranking minority party member of the legislature’s Public Safety Committee, said, “There have been so many questions asked about Armor that I was just looking to see what the statistics were, what they’re doing, what they’re not doing.
“The county, at this point, can’t afford to be sloppy . . . We need things to make sense, for there to be accountability and clarity and . . . we really don’t have that,” she added.
Curran said she may propose a solution that could include the county health department taking charge of record keeping for jail health services.
Legis. Dennis Dunne Sr. (R-Levittown), who chairs the Public Safety Committee, said in a statement that the report showed from a fiscal perspective that the county was saving millions annually by partnering with an outside vendor for inmate medical care.
But he added: “From a reporting perspective, I agree with the Office of Legislative Budget Review that the vendor and the county should be more in sync with their data collection.”
A lawyer for Gleeson’s family, who last year filed a federal lawsuit against the county and Armor, said it was “infuriating” that the man’s death was overlooked.
“It’s shocking that numbers that government officials and legislators are relying on could be so off, and if those numbers are so wrong, it calls into question everything that Armor’s providing,” said Mineola attorney James Pascarella.
“As much attention as this has gotten, to not put it in a report, it’s infuriating, really.”