BINGHAMTON, NY – Broome County is preparing to change the private medical provider at the county jail but a local activist group says it will likely do little to stem the number of deaths that have occurred within the facility.

On Monday, committees of the county legislature approved a contract with PrimeCare Medical of New York, based in Pennsylvania, for 4 years at a base cost of 4 point 4 million dollars per year.

That’s nearly half a million dollars more than the current contract with C-B-H Medical, previously known as C-M-C.

The group Justice and Unity in the Southern Tier, or JUST, has long criticized C-B-H and holds it accountable, along with the Sheriff’s Office, for 11 inmate deaths since 2011.

JUST member Andrew Pragacz says for-profit medical providers are motivated by profit, offering poor care with very little oversight.

“They’ve been a terrible medical provider in Broome County and New York State as a whole. They’ve been under Attorney General investigation for a long time in oversight. But, we don’t think that a private contractor is the solution to medical abuse and neglect in the jail. It’s still a for-profit company, it’s still a company that makes money denying people medical care,” says Pragacz.

Sheriff Dave Harder says he’s been satisfied with the quality of care provided by C-B-H and he expects the same from PrimeCare.

Harder says every death inside the jail is fully investigated by the Broome County Coroner’s Office, D-A’s Office and the New York State Commission of Corrections.

“We don’t just have bodies that we slide them off to the side. Every death has to be reported and all looked into. So, there’s no hidden ones whatsoever. These people come in here in the worst condition possible, some of them. We even have one, I think he’s still in custody, that’s waiting for a heart transplant,” says Harder.

Pragacz says JUST supports having the county hire its own medical staff or contracting with a local non-profit healthcare provider.

Harder says the jail’s medical unit is currently full with 17 male inmates and 11 females, 3 of whom have COVID.

C-B-H’s contract ended on December 31st but it has agreed to stay on to transition to PrimeCare this month.
Harder says PrimeCare is interviewing the existing medical staff with the thought of retaining them.

The full legislature is scheduled to vote on the contract on January 20th.