After inmate's death, Flagler sheriff announces jail changes

Announcement comes after death of inmate Anthony Fennick

FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. – Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly is terminating a contract with a medical provider for the Flagler County Jail, according to the Sheriff's Office. This comes after the death of an inmate earlier in the month.

Officials with the Flagler County Sheriff's Office said Anthony Fennick, 23, was an inmate at the Sheriff Perry Hall Inmate Detention Facility when he suffered a medical episode Feb. 4 and was taken to a hospital.

Fennick died Feb. 9, officials said.

"As a father myself, I cannot begin to imagine the depth of their loss and sorrow," Staly said. "We have been continuously keeping them informed on the investigation. As sheriff, I accept full responsibility. I promise the Fennick family a thorough and transparent investigation. The Fennick family and the citizens of Flagler County deserve answers and I intend to get them. We will leave no stone unturned."

Officials said the medical examiner will not have an official cause of death for another 60 to 90 days.

Evidence gathering continues with interviews with all possible witnesses, such as sheriff's personnel and inmates, review of all medical documents and analysis of all phone calls and closed-circuit TV recordings, officials said.

While the investigation is underway, Staly felt strongly enough to terminate the contract with Armor Correctional Health Care Service, which officials said is the contracted medical provider for the Flagler County Jail.

The FCSO general counsel notified Armor on Friday that the contact will be terminated in 90 days, which is the required amount of notice dictated in the contract, officials said.

"In response to this tragedy, Armor has shown little interest in anything other than denying responsibility and trying to bill us for even more money," Staly said. "When we hired them, they promised to be a full partner and provide the care and services I expected, always be responsive and effectively address any problems. I don't believe they have kept that promise to the Sheriff's Office or to our inmates."

Officials said Staly announced other changes at the jail as it relates to inmate medical care:

  • All jail supervisors and jail administrators will always be immediately notified of any and all inmate medical concerns. Officials said this will allow immediate oversight of any medical concerns that may require immediate attention.
  • During the booking medical screening process, inmates will be offered a medical release form they can complete allowing medical information to be shared with authorized family or friends. Officials said this enables full communication with family members given the very strict federal law governing patient medical privacy.
  • Signage is being added to each housing unit and the inmate handbook, encouraging inmates to report medical or other concerns to jail personnel for themselves or other inmates, officials said.
  • To assist family members, officials said a dedicated jail medical page has been added to the FCSO website, providing information and direct contact numbers to include the Inmate Medical Department, inmate services director and division chief.
  • A hotline for inmate medical concerns has been assigned, which officials said will be available 24 hours a day.
  • The medical fee schedule has been re-evaluated. Officials said Staly has directed the following medical services to be offered with no copay: follow-up care, mental health services and for an inmate or staff referrals to medical services.
  • If an inmate is transported to the hospital for a critical emergency, officials said the family or listed emergency contact person will be immediately notified.

"To the Fennick family, I am very sorry," Staly said. "I can't bring Anthony back, but I can work to prevent another family from ever experiencing the loss of a loved one in our custody. The changes I am making are important and significant and consistent with my ongoing efforts to continually improve and make your Sheriff's Office the best it can be."

Officials said an RFP to identify and select a new medical services provider was issued Friday afternoon.

Click here to view the press conference in its entirety on the FCSO Facebook page.