The Bulletin

Courts block prison health care provider’s attempts to contest contract cancelation

By: - December 14, 2021 12:03 am

Central Virginia Correctional Unit 13, a women’s prison in Chesterfield, had numerous reported COVID-19 cases among inmates and staff members. (Julia Rendleman/ For the Virginia Mercury)

The Supreme Court of Virginia has blocked an attempt by the company that provided health care in state prisons to continue fighting the cancelation of its contract by prison officials.

The court on Saturday denied a motion for a stay and a petition for review filed by Armor Correctional Health Services, which has been battling the Virgina Department of Corrections for months over a decision to terminate a contract with company and bring prison health care back in house.

The decision comes after the Circuit Court for the City of Richmond found the DOC “did not act arbitrarily and capriciously” in ending the arrangement with Armor, which had held the contract since 2014.

“Today’s proceedings are a victory for the quality of health care in our facilities,” Harold Clarke, corrections department director, said in a statement Saturday. “Our goal has always been to provide the constitutionally-mandated level of health care in our facilities and this transition will ensure that we are able to continue to do so in the future.”

Fight erupts over plan to stop outsourcing prison health care in Virginia

VitalCore Health Strategies, a Kansas-based correctional health care company, began a contract on Dec. 12 with the state to provide prison health care on an interim basis “while the department prepares to fully assume responsibility for delivering health care services to the nearly 25,000 inmates in state custody,” the Department of Corrections said.

Armor had waged a protracted campaign to keep the $90 million contract, which state officials moved to end last summer after years of rising health care costs and complaints over substandard medical care in Virginia prisons. The Miami-based company lobbied gubernatorial campaigns and members of the General Assembly, blaming the pandemic for staffing shortfalls and accusing the state of mismanagement.

“We believe​, and our outcomes show, Armor has been a valuable partner in providing quality health care to individuals incarcerated in Virginia and obviously we are disappointed we are no longer working with the commonwealth,” Santhia Curtis, Armor’s general counsel, said in an email to the Mercury.


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Robert Zullo
Robert Zullo

Robert spent 13 years as a reporter and editor at weekly and daily newspapers and was previously editor of the Virginia Mercury. He was a staff writer and managing editor at Worrall Community Newspapers in Union, N.J., before spending five years in south Louisiana covering hurricanes, oil spills and Good Friday crawfish boils as a reporter and city editor for the The Courier and the Daily Comet newspapers in Houma and Thibodaux. He covered Richmond city hall for the Richmond Times-Dispatch from 2012 to 2013 and worked as a general assignment and city hall reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from 2013 to 2016. He returned to Richmond in 2016 to cover energy, environment and transportation for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Contact him at [email protected]