Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal
Bernalillo County has also expressed concerns about YesCare’s quality of care at the Metropolitan Detention Center.
While the jail now has two medical doctors, a site physician and a medical director – as is required in its contract – it went several months with those positions vacant, according to a letter from the deputy county manager for general services to YesCare’s senior vice president that was sent in September.
The letter was released to the Journal in response to an Inspection of Public Records Act request and appears to be in response to a “proposed amendment seeking additional compensation.” Neither the county, nor YesCare, would provide the amendment to the Journal.
Lisa Sedillo-White wrote that the county is not in a position to consider any part of the proposed amendment until the issues she lists are addressed to the county’s satisfaction.
For one thing, she said, the county has been receiving “conflicting information” regarding the ease of using medical records at the jail.
“Some staff have reported that the system is unusable to such an extent that it hinders care,” she wrote. “YesCare has reported these staff simply do not understand the system and it will provide additional training. The County is worried about a disconnect between line staff and administrators/corporate regarding the use of the medical records system.”
In response to questions from the Journal, CEO Sara Tirchwell said YesCare has since conducted a survey of staff about the medical record system – as the county had asked it to – but “due to the small number of respondents, our efforts to gain more insights – potentially with additional surveying – are ongoing.”
In its response letter to Sedillo-White’s concerns the company said that it will try to address staffing shortages by having recruiters seek out candidates from medical temp agencies and post the position on an internal job board and other places as soon as a provider resigns. Providers are asked to give 60 days rather than 30 to allow for more time to find replacements.
Tirchwell added that YesCare has also been researching adding paramedics to its staff.
“Paramedics in New Mexico have a broader scope of practice than other places, as well as being trained for emergency situations,” she said.
After several empty oxygen tanks were discovered during the expert’s site visit, the county now requires YesCare to do regularly scheduled inspections of the jails’ emergency equipment and to provide it with signed checklists to confirm inspections occurred, according to a county spokeswoman.
In response to questions about its request for more funding, Tirchwell said the company is in ongoing contractual discussions with the county.
“YesCare’s first and foremost goal is to ensure we have the necessary funds to offer all offenders the care they need,” she said.