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Wyoming Department of Corrections severs ties with embattled prison medical company

A nurse's badge and stethoscope laid atop steel gray scrubs.
David Dudley
/
Wyoming Public Media
A registered nurse's badge and stethoscope. The badge details a relationship-based care model.

After working with the same prison medical company for 18 years, the Wyoming Department of Corrections is on the cusp of entering into a new partnership designed to serve the needs of inmates across the Cowboy State.

NaphCare is a correctional healthcare management company that is currently partnered with 170 facilities across 34 states. They will replace YesCare, Wyoming’s outgoing contractor, beginning July 1.

Heather Babbitt, deputy director of the Department of Corrections, said that NaphCare ticked a number of boxes: caring for aging inmates, mental health, and those with chronic conditions, for example. But the ability to implement electronic records keeping was key.

"We did place a significant emphasis on a vendor's ability to provide an electronic health record system, including the capability to provide reporting and data to ensure that services are being met and according with national standards and best practices," said Babbit. "And we wanted the new contractor to have the ability to provide us with transparency and reporting about pharmaceutical services and other medical outcomes."

That reporting will be carried out by NaphCare's in-house software, called TechCare, which was developed 16 years ago. It was designed specifically for doctors, nurses and other providers who work in correctional settings to increase efficiency while decreasing paperwork.

NaphCare will take on caring for more than 2,000 inmates, many of whom have mental health disorders, chronic conditions and health concerns that come with old age. Babbitt said there are about 500 inmates on a statewide chronic care list, and nearly 400 inmates are 55 years of age or older.

While patient care is their first concern, NaphCare CEO Brad McLane said that one challenge needs to be addressed in facilities across the nation: staffing.

"Just finding and retaining the doctors and the nurses and the mental health professionals, and all the people we need to take care of our patients," McLane said.

To recruit and retain talent, McLane added that NaphCare offers competitive wages and benefits. They're hiring now, and will begin working in Wyoming's five correctional facilities in July.

The outgoing contractor, YesCare, was formerly called Corizon. A private for-profit prison medical company, Corizon filed for bankruptcy in 2023 after facing a rising number of lawsuits filed by incarcerated people, according to the Marshall Project.

This reporting was made possible by a grant from the Corporation For Public Broadcasting, supporting state government coverage in the state. Wyoming Public Media and Jackson Hole Community Radio are partnering to cover state issues both on air and online.

David Dudley is an award-winning journalist who has written for The Guardian, The Christian Science Monitor, High Country News, WyoFile, and the Wyoming Truth, among many others. David was a Guggenheim Crime in America Fellow at John Jay College from 2020-2023. During the past 10 years, David has covered city and state government, business, economics and public safety beats for various publications. He lives in Cheyenne with his family.
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