Onondaga County jail. Credit: Chris Libonati | libonati@centralcurrent.org

The contract for the health care provider at the Syracuse jail has been put out to bid amid questions about the current provider’s suitability.

NaphCare, a third-party company that collaborates with Proactive Health Care Medicine to provide health care at the jail, was criticized in a recent New York State Commission of Correction report reviewing an incarcerated woman’s death last year at the Onondaga County Justice Center.

The report urged legislators to look into NaphCare’s fitness to provide care. The woman’s suicide was one of three reported deaths at the jail in the last 15 months.

The county’s three-year, $37 million contract is formally with Proactive Health Care Medicine, which works with NaphCare to provide health care at the jail.

Onondaga County spokesman Justin Sayles said the bid process for a new contract is ongoing. He said he could not comment on which providers had submitted bids, including whether NaphCare or PHCM bid on the contract. A spokeswoman for PHCM said she could not comment on an active bid.

The county solicited bids for the contract beginning on Oct. 25, Sayles said.

Onondaga County 10th District Legislator Mark Olson, who chairs the public safety committee, said he invited Onondaga County Sheriff Eugene Conway to speak at a Dec. 12 public safety committee meeting about the contract.

Olson said he has not yet heard back from Conway.

Conway, Chief Custody Deputy Esteban Gonzalez and sheriff’s office spokesman Sgt. Jon Seeber did not respond to requests for comment from Central Current.

The New York State Commission of Correction heavily criticized NaphCare and the jail in the death of Angela Peng, a 27-year-old who died by suicide while incarcerated at the Onondaga County jail.

“There were serious deficiencies in the standard of care provided to Angela Peng that require corrective action and will be subject to further review by the Commission,” the report said.

Peng was not seen by an onsite medical provider — only remotely — the commission says in the report. At least one nurse practitioner employed by NaphCare who handled Peng’s care was not licensed to practice in New York, the report also notes.

The commission found that NaphCare medical staff, “was not properly prepared to respond to a medical emergency,” according to the report.

Earlier this year, an infant was born in her mother’s jail cell and later died. Three incarcerated people told Central Current the mother had shown signs of distress in the days before she gave birth.

The New York State Attorney General’s Office has said the case is “pending preliminary assessment.” The office is still determining whether a deputy could be held responsible for the infant’s death. If the AG’s office determines a deputy could be held responsible, it would trigger an investigation.

Editor’s note: An initial version of this story referred to NaphCare as the company that has a contract with Onondaga County to provide health care at the Onondaga County jail. The county’s contract is formally with Proactive Health Care Medicine, a company that works with NaphCare to provide care at the jail.

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Chris Libonati

Chris Libonati covers government, accountability and equity. Have a tip? Contact Chris at 585-290-0718 or libonati@centralcurrent.org.