Counties drop medical provider

MEnD Correctional Care contracts with dozens of counties in Minnesota and other Midwestern states to provide health care for people incarcerated in jails. But months after a state board suspended the license of a doctor whose company has been under scrutiny for its role in the deaths of people held in jails, several Minnesota counties have taken steps to find a new jail medical provider. 

One reason counties are seeking change is to be able to provide improved mental health services to people who are jailed. 

About a dozen counties including Anoka, Beltrami, Clay, Crow Wing, Clearwater, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Olmsted, Sherburne, St. Louis and Wright have changed providers or are exploring other options. St. Louis County could make a change later this year. Lack of medical staff and a need for expanded service are among reasons for change.

 The Sartell-based company has faced allegations of failing to provide adequate care to inmates, including a man who died in 2018 in the Beltrami County jail after his pleas for help were ignored by jail and medical staff and a man who died by suicide in 2107 in the Sherburne County Jail. The latter death resulted in a lawsuit and settlement. 

The Minnesota Board of Medical Practice in January found that Dr. Todd Leonard, MEnD’s owner, demonstrated a willful or careless disregard for a patient’s health, welfare or safety in the Beltrami County case. 

According to the state medical board’s findings, MEnD hired a new corporate medical director in early 2021, and Leonard’s role in the company was limited to president and CEO. 

(Source: Minnesota Public Radio)