Anderson County commissioners approved a $210,000, no-bid medical contract to TAKET LLC last September, three months after negligence by company principals contributed to a prisoner's death.
The action came after Sheriff Greg Taylor recommended that commissioners approve the one-year contract to provide healthcare in the Anderson County Jail. In fall, commissioners will consider renewing the contract, which took effect Jan. 1.
“We will look at all the contractors again when the time comes,” County Judge Robert Johnston told the Herald-Press. “I'm not saying we're going to change providers, and I'm not saying we're not. I am sure all investigations into this whole thing aren't over yet.”
TAKET, formed in 2016, did not contract with Anderson County until Jan. 1 of this year. The company's managing members, however – nurse Timothy Green and Dr. Adam Corley – were the on-duty medical personnel, as individually contracted employees, when Rhonda Newsome, 50, died in a holding cell on June 15 of last year.
The report on the Texas Rangers' investigation, submitted by investigator Stephen Baggett and released to the Herald-Press last month, showed negligence contributed to, or caused, Newsome's death.
Newsome remained in the Anderson County Jail nearly seven hours after the Palestine Regional Medical Center, based on blood tests conducted earlier that day, alerted Green to Newsome's “critical value” test results. That means the blood test results were dangerously abnormal and life-threatening without immediate medical attention.
Moreover, an automatic electronic defibrillator that officers attempted to use on Newsome didn't work: It was improperly stored, lacked adult pads and working batteries, and was under a three-month-old factory recall.
The Texas Rangers report was released months after Anderson County awarded the contract to TAKET. Commissioners, presumably, knew nothing then about the failure to get Newsome to the hospital, or the malfunctioning emergency medical equipment.
Video of the incident, however, as well as jail and medical reports, were available to Taylor immediately after Newsome died.
On Aug. 23 of last year, the sheriff's office denied a freedom-of-information request from the Herald-Press to obtain surveillance video from the day Newsome died. The sheriff's office said the video had been taped over.
Taylor also asked the Texas Commission on Jail Standards to withhold its copy of the video, and he denied a request from Newsome's son for his mother's jail medical records.
Johnston stressed that commissioners, when approving the medical contract, considered more than Taylor's recommendation.
“I researched other proposals,” Johnston told the Herald-Press. “We concluded they [TAKET] gave us the most for our money, and were in the best interest of Anderson County.”
Working at Anderson County Jail since at least 2014, Green and Corley were similarly employed as medical staff when inmate William Edward Brown III died in 2017 from what the coroner concluded to be arteriosclerotic and hypertensive heart disease. Brown was 31.
Brown's sister, Beverlee Deyon, told the Herald-Press Wednesday she's stunned Anderson County would consider hiring the medical staff employed when her brother and Newsome, died.
“It's horrendous,” she said. “I've spoken to a lot of people who were there with my brother. People aren't getting the help they need; and the help doesn't have to be life-threatening. They treat those who complain like their attention-getters or pill-seekers.”
Former prisoners told the Herald-Press that Newsome, her side swollen and mouth bleeding, had pleaded to go to the hospital for at least three days before she died. The Texas Rangers' investigation covered only the day Newsome died.