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BernCo awards $53M contract for MDC to St. Louis-based company

The Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention Center. (Dean Hanson/Albuquerque Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Bernalillo County Commission on Tuesday awarded a $53 million contract to a St. Louis-based company for medical, dental, mental health and psychiatric services at the Metropolitan Detention Center.

The vote was 3-0 with Commissioners Steven Michael Quezada and Lonnie Talbert absent from the meeting.

Centurion Detention Health Services, which provides correctional health care services in Florida, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, Tennessee and Vermont, will take over duties from Nashville-based Correct Care Solutions and begin a four-year contact on Jan. 1.

Orthopedic, obstetrical, optometry and telemedicine services, which will be provided at MDC as opposed to transporting inmates to off-site facilities, are also part of the contract.

The contract also includes two transition planning personnel with expertise to assist with health care needs as inmates reintegrate to the community.

Contracts with companies that provide medical services for inmates have evolved greatly over time, County Attorney Ken Martinez said.

“Now they are doing things that you wouldn’t have thought about 10 years ago, such as preparing folks for when they leave the jail,” Martinez said. “Now that we’ve built the Resource Re-entry Center, it’s important that our medical contractor up on the hill is preparing a package for resource re-entry with their transition planners, and (the county is) working with University of New Mexico Hospital for transition planners down here to then become community planners, because now you’re no longer in jail, you’re part of the community.”

County officials opened the Resource Re-entry Center, tasked with assisting former inmates in accessing housing, job opportunities, shelter and medical treatment, in May.

The Centurion contract allows for up to 1,550 inmates. If the population exceeds that number, the cost per inmate goes up an additional 43 cents each day until the population is brought back down.

Compensation from the county to Centurion for the contract’s first and second years is a fixed cost of $13 million, and for the third and fourth years, it is about $13.3 million and $13.7 million, respectively.

Funding for the contract will come from the general fund, health care gross receipts tax, methadone maintenance funding and future revenue growth.

Also during Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners approved a $200,000 annual increase for the Behavior Health Initiative’s Community Connections project. Extra funds were needed to issue about 120 already funded housing vouchers because workloads of case managers who support and work with individuals who receive vouchers are at capacity.

The Community Connections project consists of two programs: a re-entry supportive housing program and a supportive housing expansion for frequent utilizers of services.