MENDOCINO Co., 11/17/21 — The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors unanimously declined to amend their contract with Alabama-based NaphCare, Inc., which provides heathcare and mental healthcare inside the county jail, opting to hold back on an additional $3,484,847 for services through the end of 2022 until the correctional contractor comes provides data that addresses local concerns over the treatment of inmates in crisis. NaphCare put an 8-page slideshow together for Tuesday’s meeting touting their accomplishments — foremost of which is that nobody has died in the jail on their watch — but District 3 Supervisor Ted Williams called that “awful thin” to justify a $3.5 million expenditure.
“I hear your concerns loud and clear,” said NaphCare CEO Bradford McLane. “Certainly, because we have our own electronic health records, because of our technology, we can provide data and information.”
“Why didn’t you bring it or attach it?” Williams asked. “That’s what I don’t get.”
“We’ve been successful at saving lives. We haven’t had a death in your facility. We haven’t had lawsuits and litigation that are very commonplace in our field. So we really stand by our track record,” Bradford responded.
“I’ve had outreach from my constituents who say their family members have been in our jail for months, solitary confinement for a period of months, out every other night, not seeing the light of day, unmedicated.” Williams said. “Why weren’t they medicated? I don’t know if that falls on us as a county, or NaphCare. The first time I heard it I thought that’s not right. I’ve heard it 10 times now.”
Williams added that if this was done in the past due to a lack of resources, and is no longer common practice, he would like to see data showing a downward trendline for instances involving unmedicated inmates in crisis. NaphCare Chief Psychologist Amber Simpler explained that medication is available in the jail, but they can’t force an inmate to take that medication without a court order.
“We have to respect patients’ rights when they say ‘I’m not going to take this medication,’” Simpler said.
“Even with a patient that’s psychotic?” Wiliams asked.
“Yeah,” Simpler said. “That’s how that goes.”
Mendocino County Director of Behavioral Health Dr. Jenine Miller, who is a psychologist, later corroborated Simpler’s explanation at Williams’ request. Undersheriff Darren Brewster also spoke up in defense of Naphcare, reiterating that no one has died under their care at the county jail.
“The Sheriff was extremely pleased with NaphCare on what they’ve done for our, our clientele,” Brewster said. “The lack of lawsuits, deaths at the jail, it’s extremely impressive.”
Williams told McLane to come back with a proposal that he “would vote on if (he) were the decision maker.”
“Respectfully, I don’t think that’s very fair,” McLane said. “We understood that you wanted a broad overview. I didn’t understand that you wanted this level of detail. Sometimes elected officials want a ton of data, sometimes they want an overview. Now we have that mandate, so we’ll meet it.”
“Sounds like just a miscommunication,” Williams said. “I look forward to working with you.”
McClane smiled, looking somewhat rattled by the confrontation, and Williams made a motion to direct county staff to work with NaphCare and come back to the board with additional data on the mental health treatment of inmates at the Mendocino County Jail. Elsewhere on the agenda, the supervisors postponed the purchase of 17 patrol vehicles for MCSO, asking Undersheriff Brewster to look into the feasibility of adding electric and hybrid-electric vehicles to their fleet and bring the matter back before the board Dec. 7.