In a split vote, Anderson County commissioners Monday renewed the contract of their jail medical provider, including a 3 percent increase.
The action came despite a failed state inspection, a $10-million wrongful death lawsuit against the county, and a Texas Rangers report exposing negligence by the medical provider in the 2018 death of prisoner Rhonda Newsome.
The one-year, nearly $230,000 medical contract with TAKET LLC includes $12,000 for additional mobile x-ray, blood testing, and sonogram services, as well as an additional $8,000 for contracted services.
County Judge Robert Johnston, commissioners Greg Chapin (Precinct 1) and Kenneth Dickson (Precinct 3) voted to approve the contract. Precinct 2 Commissioner Rashad Mims abstained; Precinct 4 Commissioner Joey Hill was absent.
“This was the decision of the court,” Johnston told the Herald-Press Tuesday. “It's in the best interest of the taxpayers.”
Mims told the Herald-Press he needed more information about TAKET before voting.
He also said commissioners should have delayed action, while keeping TAKET on a month-to-month basis, until they had more bids.
TAKET was one of only two companies to submit bids. The second company, Southern Health Partners, requested more than $300,000 for the year, plus an additional $30,000 for prescription medication service.
“I can't speak to anything having to do with current litigation,” Mims said. “However, I can't say I'm 100 percent behind our current medical unit [TAKET].”
TAKET was first awarded the county contract for 2019. Its principal owners, Dr. Adam Corely and Nurse Tim Green, however, have been individually contracted with the jail for several years.
Corley and Green were under contract on June 15, 2018, when Newsome died in custody in a holding cell at the jail.
In June, the Herald-Press reported the findings of a Texas Rangers' investigation, completed May 31, that showed negligence in Newsome's death.
The Texas Rangers reported Newsome died nearly seven hours after the Palestine Regional Medical Center told jail medical staff that Newsome's blood test results showed imminent danger of death.
The Rangers report was obtained through a freedom-of-information request filed by the Herald-Press.
Doctors at Palestine Regional Medical Center informed Green of the test results at 10:39 a.m. However, the Anderson County Jail medical activity log indicates Green notified Corley of the lab results around the time Newsome was found unresponsive in her cell – at roughly 5 p.m.
The Texas Rangers' investigation also found jail staff attempted to use a malfunctioning defibrillator on Newsome.
Newsome's children, Amber Ford and Regan Kimbrough, and parents Donald and Ann Newsome, filed a federal suit in August against Anderson County; medical provider TAKET Holdings Medical Solutions; Dr. Adam Corley; Nurse Timothy Green; and Greg Taylor – individually, and in his capacity as Anderson County Sheriff.
The suit alleges Newsome “was essentially tortured by improper and over-medication. [She] sat in a jail cell, suffering for more than five days from a life threatening condition that was known to jailers, supervisors, and jail medical staff.”
Local attorney Charles Nichols, lead counsel for Newsome's family, declined to comment, citing ongoing litigation.
The Rangers' investigation, as well as a follow-up investigation in September, found no criminal wrong-doing on the part of ACSO staff.
A September report by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards, filed after the commission's unannounced inspection of the Anderson County Jail, showed TAKET did not record medications dispensed to prisoners between July and September, 2019.
The failure to document medication put the Anderson County Jail formally out of compliance with state standards, and caused the jail to fail its annual inspection.
The commission ordered TAKET to immediately return to paper reporting. Johnson said TAKET personnel immediately complied with TCJS orders.