State lays off prison employees
Health care workers at nine prison facilities in south Florida, including Charlotte and DeSoto counties, are losing their jobs after the Department of Corrections outsourced their positions to a private company.
According to DOC spokeswoman Ann Howard, 315 total jobs are being eliminated, with 29 people being let go at Charlotte Correctional Institution, and 26 at the DeSoto Annex facility in Arcadia.
Pittsburgh, Pa.-based Wexford Health Sources is the company taking over health care services at the nine facilities, but the state will continue to provide health care at the remainder of its prisons, according to Howard.
Wexford signed a five-year, $48 million deal, and is expected to save taxpayers roughly $1 million a month, Howard said. Seven facilities in Okeechobee, Hardee, Martin, Everglades and Miami-Dade counties also will be affected. Howard added that all health care positions will be terminated, including doctors, nurses and administrative staff.
Warden Thomas Reid of Charlotte Correctional and Warden Vickie Langford of the DeSoto Annex both declined to comment for this story.
But Howard said those being terminated will have the opportunity to interview for positions with Wexford. They are not guaranteed to be hired or rehired in the same position. Howard added that employees are not required to interview for the new job opportunity, but that Wexford is expected to hire 90 percent of those let go.
Representatives for Wexford Health Sources could not be reached for comment.
The state signed the deal with Wexford on Jan. 3, and also is appealing a decision made by Leon County Judge John Cooper last month that blocked the outsourcing of prison health care in the rest of the state.
The current deal with Wexford extends only to the DOC’s fourth region — which includes most of South Florida — after a 2011 budget provision allowed the deal with Wexford to move forward, Howard said. Privatization deals for the other three regions of the DOC were not part of that budget plan, according to Howard.
Howard added that all 315 employees have been notified of the pending terminations, and that the transition to Wexford should take roughly 90 days.