DeKalb hires new medical services provider for jail, replaces contractors named in suit

NAMI reports that 2 in 5 adults with mental health issues go to jail.
NAMI reports that 2 in 5 adults with mental health issues go to jail.(walb)
Published: Jun. 6, 2023 at 3:52 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - As of June 1, there’s a new private contractor handling all medical services at the DeKalb County Jail.

The new contractor, Armor Health of Miami, will handle medical and mental health services, Atlanta News First news partner Decaturish reported.

Armor Health is replacing Wellpath and Centurion, contractors named in a lawsuit filed by the family of Anthony Walker, an inmate who froze to death in the jail.

Wellpath handled medical services, while Centurion handled mental health services, according to records provided by the jail.

“Armor addresses a priority area of inmate care in today’s jail environment: a collaborative, holistic approach to medical and behavioral/mental health needs,” Sheriff Melody Maddox said in a press release.

Walker had schizophrenia and a substance abuse problem. He was arrested on Dec. 18, 2022, on charges of aggravated assault and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He died of hypothermia on Dec. 26, 2022, due to conditions in his cell.

“Arrestees have a right to privacy concerning their existing or previous physical and mental health backgrounds and conditions, unless they pose a threat to public health. Even with those restrictions, this agency has a responsibility to provide the best possible care while they are here and to treat them with dignity and respect in the process. We expect Armor Health to be a productive partner with us in fulfilling this mandate.”

Another inmate who died a day after Walker, Jackson Orukpete, 57, was also found in a cold cell. The Medical Examiner said cold temperatures may have contributed to Orukpete’s death, but it couldn’t be proven.

According to the lawsuit and the medical examiner’s report, Walker was naked and wet, both factors that contributed to his death by hypothermia. In addition, the lawsuit alleges that the temperature in Walker’s cell was 50 degrees. Between Dec. 23 and Dec. 26, the temperature outside the jail was 10 degrees to 18 degrees.