A health care provider company who told Lafourche Parish officials they could save the parish costs in providing health care to the parish jail, has backed out of a council approved contract, saying that because of the political climate, they felt unwelcomed here.

Parish Risk Manger Brent Abadie said Friday, Quality Correctional Health of Birmingham, Ala, has backed out of a contract the council approved last Tuesday, to provide health care at the parish jail.

"After winning the contract on June 25, officials with the company said they had been trying to get an appointment with the warden of the jail, and the sheriff; however they were never able to do," Abadie said. "In short, they said that because of a political climate, they would not be able to perform the services they were contracting for. They said it would not be a good idea."

Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre said last week, he was never consulted on a new health care provider for the parish jail.

"I never expressed any dissatisfaction with the current provider, who we have been using for the past 11 years," Webre said.

The sheriff said the cost of providing health care, food, clothing, and transportation, belongs to the parish council. He said the sheriff's office is charged with the functional operations of the jail, deputies, and the staff who work inside of the jail.

"If the parish council chooses to seek bids and replace the current provider, with another provider, that is strictly their prerogative," Webre said. "However, the current vendor informed me that the council had gone out for bids, and they were never notified to continue

with the contract. Also, I believe they were willing to offer an extension for the rest of the year."

Correct Health of Atlanta, Ga., currently holds the contract, which costs the parish just over an annual $1 million.

However, the council earlier this month rejected a bid for health care services from Quality Correctional Health, at the administration's recommendation, because some councilmen at the time felt that Correct Health of Atlanta was not properly informed.

But on Tuesday, the Council approved the contract for Quality Correctional Health, in a 6-2 vote, with Councilmen Jerry Jones and Daniel Lorraine voting no, and Councilman Craig Jaccuzzo being absent.

Councilwoman Luci Sposito and Councilman Michael Gros said that while they had a problem with better communication between the administration and the sheriff's office, they would vote for the contract because they did not want Quality Correctional Health to sue the parish, because they felt the proper bid law process was followed.

Other councilmen who voted for the company, felt the same, and were also afraid of the parish being sued.

However, Dr. Johnny E. "Rusy" Bates, the chief executive officer of Quality Correctional Health, appeared before the council on last Tuesday, and told them he would not sue if his company was not approved for the new contract.

Councilman Daniel Lorraine, who voted against Quality Correctional, has contented since earlier this month, he had a problem with the fact that Webre was not consulted with the contract, "and it is he who operates the jail."

"Since he has been working with Correct Health of Atlanta for the past 11 years, wouldn't you say that he has had no problem with their services?" Lorraine asked.

Councilman Jerry Jones, who also voted against switching health care vendors, said the parish administration should not sign any contracts which extend into 2020. He said those tasks should be left for the new parish administration.

Abadie said the parish council will have to work on an extension with Correct Health, to continue services.

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