The troubling past of the medical provider for the Minnehaha County Jail

Investigates

As the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation examines the death of a young mother at the Minnehaha County Jail, KELOLAND Investigates has uncovered information about the Florida-based company that provides medical services to the jail.

While jail deaths are rare in Minnehaha County, they’re nothing new for Armor Correctional Health Services. The company handles medical services for thousands of inmates in eight states.

KELOLAND Investigates has been looking into the trail of deaths, lawsuits, settlements and even criminal charges involving Armor.

Armor Correctional Health Services told KELOLAND Investigates it asked a nurse whom they had subcontracted with, “not to return” to the jail, following 31-year-old Jordin Eichmann’s death. However, the company says its investigation is done and there was no clinical error made that contributed to her death

 “Armor Health’s investigation has clearly concluded there was no clinical error made that contributed to the death of the inmate in question at Minnehaha County Jail.”

J.P. Hervis, Spokesperson for Armor Health

According to the jail’s warden, Eichmann was suspected of being on a substance, but refused medical help when she was brought in. The jail says she was being screened frequently via video.

However, KELOLAND’s Angela Kennecke spoke with Eichmann’s mother, who said the family has been contacted by two fellow inmates who reported that Eichmann’s pleas for help were ignored.

31-year-old Jordin Eichmann died hours after being brought to the Minnehaha County Jail on May 13

KELOLAND Investigates has uncovered that jailhouse deaths have happened before under Armor.
We’ve found dozens of lawsuits filed by inmates or their families against the company–more than 30 in federal court in one district in Florida.

Florida counties terminate contracts

Two Florida counties ended their contracts with Armor after separate incidents involving inmate deaths

Anthony Fennick complained for days about a headache and stomach pains in the Flagler County jail. After he was finally taken to the hospital, he died.

“How they (Armor) handled this tragedy and how they reacted to my staff is not what I expect,” Flagler County, Florida Sheriff Rick Staly said to WFTV on February 22, 2019.

Colorado county finds new provider

Terry West died in the El Paso County Jail in Colorado in 2019. According to The Gazette of Colorado Springs, “In the hours before he died, West screamed for help and vomited blood while a nearby medical staffer walked away.” County officials there chose a new provider for inmates’ health following the incident.

Armor settles New York lawsuit for $350,000

In 2016, New York’s attorney general settled a lawsuit that alleged that Armor put inmates’ health in jeopardy. Armor agreed to pay $350,000 and not to bid on or enter into any contract to provide jail health services in the state of New York for three years. Armor denied any wrongdoing.

Wisconsin files criminal charges

In Milwaukee, Armor is facing felony criminal charges after an inmate died of dehydration. According to prosecutors, Armor staff claimed to make checks on him that could not be verified by surveillance video.

The state of Wisconsin has filed seven counts of falsifying records and one count of abuse of residents. A status hearing on that case is set for Friday, but no trial date has been set yet.
We’ve asked Armor about each of these cases. They provided us with this statement:

“Armor Health cannot disclose the details of any litigation without violating Federal privacy laws (HIPPA). As a healthcare company, the privacy of every patient in every circumstance is paramount.”

J.P. Hervis, Spokesperson, Armor Health

Minnehaha County entered into a contract with Armor for medical services with the jail in 2014 and will pay the company $3.2 million this year.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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