Prison health firm breaks out of state contract

Powhatan Correctional Center. Courtesy of the DOC.

Powhatan Correctional Center. Courtesy of the DOC.

Dozens of local prison employees will soon have a new company signing their paychecks.

Corizon Health, a Tennessee-based firm that provides healthcare services in Virginia prisons, is terminating its contract with the state Department of Corrections, effective Sept. 30. The decision will affect Corizon’s 638 employees at 17 state facilities, including 134 contract workers at Powhatan Correctional Center and Powhatan Reception and Classification Center.

The employees were informed of the contract termination July 11, but most will be able to continue in their roles with an interim contractor, Miami-based Armor Correctional Health, the company said.

“We don’t intend to reduce the number of people working,” said Mark Hubbard, a spokesperson for Armor. “It would be our expectation that the majority of people working with inmates and providing service will be welcome to stay.”

Corizon Health’s contract with the state provided healthcare services to 15,000 inmates at the 17 facilities. Healthcare providers within correctional facilities include doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, and X-ray and lab technicians, among others.

Corizon said some employees will stay with Corizon and switch to a correctional facility in another state.

Susan Morgenstern, a spokesperson for Corizon said the company “made a business decision to end the contract, based on a variety of factors.” She did not elaborate.

Corizon’s contract with the state was for $76.5 million a year, DOC Spokesman Larry Traylor said. The contract was set to expire April 30, 2015 but included five successive one-year renewal options. Corizon exercised its right to early termination with 120 days’ notice.

The company lost contracts with prisons in a few other states in recent months, according to several news reports.

The Virginia DOC will pay Armor $82 million annually to provide inmate care until a permanent provider can be selected through the state’s procurement process. Armor previously provided prison healthcare services at a handful of Virginia DOC facilities from 2006 to 2013, when it was outbid by Corizon.

James Hatcher, Armor’s senior regional vice president, said the company is committed to a “seamless transition.”

Powhatan Correctional Center and Powhatan Reception and Classification Center are the closest facilities to Richmond affected by the change, located at 3600 Woods Way in State Farm.

The correctional center serves male inmates and has an average daily population of 812, the DOC said. It has a security level of 3, which means it accepts long-serving inmates who aren’t as high-risk as those in maximum-security prisons.

The classification center accepts offenders from local jails and processes them into the prison system. It has an average daily population of 449 inmates of all security classifications, the DOC said.

In the most recent fiscal year, the state’s DOC spent a combined $152 million for inmate healthcare services at its 50-or-so facilities.

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