‘Clearly there’s a problem:’ Montgomery County ADAMHS puts a pause on fund transfer to jail

Board tables nearly $1M fund transfer for jail behavioral health services to Naphcare.

Nearly $1 million of human services levy funding for behavioral health services at the Montgomery County Jail is on hold after a Montgomery County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) board member voiced concerns about the level of care NaphCare provides.

“Clearly there’s a problem,” board member Sherry Gale, who is the director of College Credit Plus and Scholarships at Dayton Public Schools, said about NaphCare.

There have been concerns from the community over jail deaths, Gale said. Gale questioned whether other providers had been considered when the ADAMHS board’s program and services policy committee met recently to discuss upcoming contracts.

“I’m very concerned that we would be looking at the same organization, the same level of services, for jail services for behavioral health with the record that they’ve had in recent years, including the most deaths in jail in any county in Ohio,” Gale said.

The board tabled a fund transfer of $948,000 of human services levy funding for behavioral health jail services to go to the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office for the NaphCare contract until more information could be brought forward.

“I’m not really pleased to be asked to approve the same thing if this is really for the same thing we’ve been getting,” Gale said.

The funds would be part of an interoffice department exchange, so it was unclear how much sway the Montgomery County ADAMHS board would have in deciding with whom the sheriff’s office could contract.

NaphCare provides both medical and behavioral health care at the Montgomery County Jail.

When reached for comment, NaphCare said its contract and services with Montgomery County have not changed and it could not comment on the county’s internal allocation of budget.

“NaphCare’s mission is to improve and save lives,” a statement from NaphCare said in regard to its health services at the jail.

NaphCare works with partners in the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office to ensure the health and safety of patients in the Montgomery County Jail, NaphCare told the Dayton Daily News.

“NaphCare is continuously identifying new advancements in our approach to correctional health care to address the disproportionate increases in the number of people incarcerated with mental health and substance use disorders,” NaphCare said.

The behavioral health portion of NaphCare’s contract was combined with the medical care portion as part of a memorandum of understanding approximately five years ago through the Montgomery County Office of Management and Budget, said Helen Jones-Kelley, executive director of Montgomery County ADAMHS.

What was under consideration by the board was “purely a transfer of dollars,” she said.

Gale questioned whether other services or providers had been considered.

“My understanding is that this is something that sheriff takes care of. We’re simply the funds,” said board member Jeffrey Startzman, who is a retired attorney and had former roles of administrator, magistrate and prosecutor.

“We can’t tell them how to spend those dollars,” said Startzman, who later opposed tabling the transfer of funds.

Other board members suggested doing a provider spotlight on NaphCare and what those services entail.

Board member Teresa Russell said she would have to abstain from voting given her position as director of criminal justice outreach at the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, but said someone else from the sheriff’s office could discuss the NaphCare contract and services.

“I would hope that we would look at various providers,” Gale said. “I wish the county would do that, and I think the community has voiced that over and over and over again.”

Dayton Daily News reporting revealed more inmates died at the Montgomery County jail last year than all of 2021 and 2022 combined, leading to calls for the community to take action.

Our analysis of state data also showed more people died after coming into custody at the Montgomery County jail last year than any other jail in Ohio. The Dayton Daily News investigated what was causing this rash of fatalities, and what county officials were doing about it.

The Dayton Daily News reached out to the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, which was not able to provide a statement.