ATLANTA — Fulton County commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday to keep using NaphCare as the medical provider for inmates at the jail.
The decision comes amid an investigation into LaShawn Thompson's death that happened in jail custody that’s raised questions about the care being provided to detainees. Thompson died in September.
Prior to the vote, Fulton County Sheriff Pat Labat addressed the commission saying the NaphCare contract is just a small portion of the plan to address issues inside the jail.
“No rock we won’t overturn,” said Labat as he described what he is calling a "Bridge Plan" to address the long list of concerns.
One of those concerns is Thompson's private autopsy, which indicates that he died from severe neglect. His family’s attorney says he was found covered in bug bites.
During the commissioner’s meeting Wednesday, one resident questioned the renewal of Naphcare’s contract while Thompson’s death is still under investigation.
“Lashawn Thompson was an extreme case. Several instances of harm died in Fulton County jail,” said the resident who joined the meeting virtually.
Gwinnett County is also facing a wrongful death lawsuit in relation to its partnership with NaphCare and a 23-year-old inmate's death. Jordan Davidson died in January 2022 in part by a delayed diagnosis of a tumor on his spine, according to the lawsuit, calling NaphCare negligent and contributing to his permanent neurological damage and quadriplegia. Prosecutors said Gwinnett County jail officials and NaphCare officials ignored his serious symptoms for months -- and contributed to a fate similar to Thompson's.
“National NaphCare has very high ranking, any issues that have come light we have to work collaboratively with them, and (the) sheriff to resolve, but to not have any provider would be disastrous," Commissioner Khadijah Abdul-Rahmam said.
In response to the concerns about the contract renewal, in a statement, Labat said the jail did receive guidance on its decision to continue its partnership with NaphCare.
“The concerns that have come to light in recent months have not magically gone away or been resolved," the sheriff said. "My intent remains to provide the best standard of care for inmates while also ensuring there are no gaps in service. Per the advice of legal counsel, this extension through the end of the year is the best option to meet those goals.”
In response to the approval NaphCare also sent a statement.
“NaphCare’s first priority is the safety and security of our staff and our patients, as well as cleanliness within the Fulton County Jails. We are confident that the revised contract terms approved today will allow our team to safely and effectively provide healthcare within the Fulton County Jails. We are committed to ensuring the safety of our staff and providing continuity of care for our patients within the jails," the statement read.
NaphCare’s new contract begins on July 1. The agreement calls for 13 additional employees and requires Fulton County to pay the full cost for HIV, Hepatitis C and several other medications. The agreement also grants the county immunity from medical malpractice claims.