MINNEHAHA COUNTY, S.D. (KELO) — Minnehaha County has had a contract with Armor to provide medical service to inmates in the county jail since 2014, said Jeff Gromer, Chief Deputy for the county.
The county took requests for proposals in 2014 when it chose Armor to provide the service, Gromer said. The county has renewed the contract each year since then but has not take RFPs, Gromer said.
Armor would have been providing care at the facility when an inmate died earlier this month.
The Department of Criminal Investigations is investigating the May 13 death of inmate Jordin Eichmann, 31, who was authorities said was found unresponsive in her cell at 5:55 a.m. that day. No foul play is suspected and the cause of death has yet to be determined.
KELOLAND News had learned Eichmann had been a resident of the Emily’s Hope Oxford Sober Living Home in Sioux Falls. She had left for treatment of meth addiction and was supposed to return to the home next week.
Gromer said Armor is responsible for the medical and mental health needs of inmates in the jail.
According to Armor’s website, it’s “a physician- and minority-owned company, created for the sole purpose of providing comprehensive medical, dental, and mental health services to patients in jails and prisons.” Armor is based in Miami, Florida.
“Obviously we are happy with Armor’s service,” Gromer said. Otherwise, the county would have sought another provider, he said.
Still, after seven years of contracts, the county is reaching the point where it may have considered asking for RPFs before the 2021 contract.
“It’s good practice to do that every so often,” Gromer said.
The county’s 2020 contract with Armor is for $3.2 million a year which includes a management fee, Gromer said. The $3.2 million contract also includes projected costs, Gromer said.
Armor projects the services needed for inmates and the costs associated for those services. If the actual costs are lower than projected, the county doesn’t pay for the full amount of projected costs, Gromer said. If the actual costs are higher than what’s projected, the county pays more, he said.
Armor works with the county to help determine the projected costs because no one wants the projected costs to be too much lower or higher than actual costs, Gromer said. Projected costs include reviews of costs and services from prior years.
Although the county has been satisfied with Armor’s service, Gromer said he can’t say that no inmate has ever complained about the service. Yet, people who are in jail tend to not be happy about the circumstances and may complain about food services, medical service and other services provided in jail, Gromer said.
Minnehaha County is the only South Dakota entity listed as client on Armor’s website. The client list includes four counties in Colorado, nine counties and one city in Florida, three facilities in Virginia and one county each in Georgia, Illinois, Maine and Utah.
Correct Care Solutions, now Wellpath, provided care prior to the contract with Armor, Gromer said. Before that, Avera McKennan had a contract with the county, he said.
In a statement to KELOLAND, Armor spokesman J.P. Hervis said, “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.”
Hervis said the company cannot comment on litigation or disclose information about lawsuits because of federal HIPPA privacy laws.