Witherspoon: County had no choice but Cardinal

Witherspoon: County had no choice but Cardinal
December 21
08:00 2017

County commissioners voted on an agreement with Cardinal Innovations Healthcare, curbside recycling and a wrongful death settlement during their Thursday, Dec. 14, meeting.

Commissioners approved an annual performance agreement with Cardinal Innovations Healthcare, which provides mental health, developmental disability and substance abuse services in Forsyth and 19 other counties. By state law, counties help pay for such services. The agreement includes providing the county with invoices, quarterly progress reports on service utilization and other data related to the use of county funds. It also says that Cardinal will provide training and assistance to the Social Services and Public Health departments.

Cardinal, the state’s largest managed care organization, was temporarily taken over by the state recently because of “serious mismanagement of funds,” which includes paying its CEO three times what is allowed by state law before firing him with a $1.7 million severance package. County Commissioner Vice Chair Don Martin was absent from the vote because he was attending a meeting to choose Cardinal’s new board.

The vote was unanimous. Commissioner Everette Witherspoon had some harsh words for Cardinal in recent weeks, but said that he voted for the performance agreement because it was necessary, and the county had no choice but to use Cardinal at this time.

Assistant County Manager Ronda Tatum said that the takeover shouldn’t interfere with Cardinal’s services.

“At this point in time, what we’re getting from Cardinal is that it’s business as usual,” said Tatum.

Commissioners also approved a three-year contract extension with ABC Garbage Service and Rural Garbage Service for curbside subscription garbage service in exchange for them offering subscription curbside recycling pickup. The service will be $7 a month. The service will be offered to their 14,245 garbage subscribers along with other households in unincorporated areas of the county that want it.

The county’s other curbside garbage provider is Waste Management, with 11,597 subscribers, which said it couldn’t provide curbside recycling pickup. Its contract did not receive an extension.

Commissioners also approved using grant money to cover most of the cost of a new compactor and general fund money to pay for a new attendant at the Hanes Mill Road Landfill recycling drop off center. The attendant will ensure garbage is not put in recycling bins and the compactor will ensure they don’t fill beyond capacity as quickly.

The project is expected to cost $58,946, which includes $19,653 for the compactor, $28,938 for the attendant’s salary and various installation costs. Grant money will cover $18,200-$22,027.

Also during the meeting, commissioners approved a settlement of $180,000 to the estate of Dino Vann Nixon. Nixon died while an inmate at the Forsyth County Detention Center. Correct Care Solutions, which the county contracts with to provide inmate medical care, was also named in the suit but is not part of the settlement. Several inmates have died over the years at the jail, which has sparked community outrage. Correct Care’s contract was renewed this year despite the controversy, since no other company bid for the service. The settlement does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing or liability. 

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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