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Sheriff Fires Armor, Jail Health Provider at Center of Anthony Fennick’s Death, and Institutes Immediate Changes

| February 22, 2019

Anthony Fennick's friends and family members lighting up candles at his memorial on the beach last week. (© Shannon Trivino for FlaglerLive)

Anthony Fennick’s friends and family members lighting up candles at his memorial on the beach last week. (© Shannon Trivino for FlaglerLive)

The night the Flagler County jail’s health provider finally sent 23-year-old inmate Anthony Fennick to the hospital, after he suffered a seizure and after five days of fevers, his mother, Erika Williams, could not get through to him or to the jail. She hadn’t been able to get through to him nor health staff most of that day. Jail officials never told her her son had been sent to the hospital. She only found out because of ER staff. By then it was too late. Anthony was brain dead, and he would be dead days later.


Those kinds of obstacles in the way of families with inmates at the jail are about to change, or have already changed.

Today, Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly, taking “full responsibility” for Anthony’s death, announced he was firing Armor Correctional Health, the private provider he hired last year: he gave Armor notice that the contract would be terminated at the end of a 90-day period required when one of the two parties does a “cancellation for convenience.” (It’s a bad week for Armor: Lake County is also ending its contract with the provider.) The sheriff said today he was doing so because Armor had not been responsive since the incident.

“When I have a contractor I expect them to be a partnership with the sheriff’s office,” he said. “The president of the company has not reached out to anyone, myself or any of my staff at the jail and all we received from them is an email that says you need to pay us more money because you asked us to remove two employees. Well, that’s not what the contract says. You don’t like the contract, too bad. But that ain’t the contract that you signed.”

The sheriff’s office is issuing a request for proposals to get a replacement provider.

The sheriff isn’t waiting the 90-day period or for the replacement provider to institute immediate changes in direct response to Anthony’s death, and after his agency officials consulted with the family. The changes are also likely preemptive measures against legal action.

These changes will include a new system that provides for inmates to clearly list, at the time they enter jail and during their health screening, what family members may be given their medical information (the medical staff at the jail would not tell Williams anything about his condition that week, claiming she was not on an approved list). Family contacts will be informed when an inmate is taken to hospital in critical condition. It had been the jail’s policy until now never to let families know when an inmate is taken to the hospital, for security reasons: the fear was that it would allow for escape attempts. The jail will still not inform families of routine trips to the hospital for treatment, but will do so in grave circumstances.

In addition, jail supervisors and administrators–not just the health provider–will be immediately informed of “any and all inmate medical concerns,” Staly said, allowing “immediate oversight of any medical concerns that may require immediate attention.” That means supervisors may override health staff’s decisions and send an inmate to the hospital sooner than, say, when Anthony was sent. In fact, it appears that a sergeant at the jail did just that in Anthony’s case: “I’m very proud–and again this is still an active investigation–but I know that one of my sergeants overruled the on-duty nurse and called an ambulance to transport him to the hospital,” Staly said of Anthony, “when the nurse had said you can just put him in a sheriff’s vehicle and take him there.”

The jail is also adding a 24-hour hotline for inmate medical concerns and a web page, already up, that includes contact information to the medical department and inmate services as well as the division chief.

“It’s a great start and it’s a great change,” Erika Williams said this evening, “that’s what we wanted changed, some kind of good can come out of this because nothing is ever going to be good for us. I respect that and I appreciate that. But I also want to make it clear that just because it’s being done and he’s getting rid of Armor, it’s still not ever, ever going to cleanse their hands, Armor or Staly nor those supervisors that were on duty, will ever get their hands clean of my son’s blood. Armor was responsible, but the sheriff and the jail and the CO’s are just as responsible.” CO’s are correctional officers.

“I don’t want the illusion that just because this is happening, that the story ends here,” Williams said. “This is just the beginning. He can close the jail down for all I know, and I’m still not going to stop and be happy because all of this should have already taken place. It shouldn’t have taken my son’s life” for it to happen.

Reacting to the first of Williams’s two comments, Staly said: “I’m the sheriff I take responsibility for what occurs in the jail, there’s nothing I can do to bring back their son, and I’m a parent myself. The situation is tragic. What I can do is do everything I can to make sure that nothing like this happens again.”

As for the next health provider at the jail, don’t expect a return to the previous arrangement, when local government provided the care. “I will tell you that government medical services are not any better and quite often they cost significantly more with less services,” Staly said. The previous set-up, a part-time approach, also had an inmate death in 2016, he said. “I don’t think having bigger government is necessarily the way to go in this field, so there’s probably eight to 10 companies we’ve identified that we’re sending out the RFP to, and we’ll see what comes in. Last time we only had one bid, and Armor was not the cheaper of the two.” But since they were on contract with St. Johns and Volusia, among 19 other counties using them at the time, the company came with recommendations.

Staly spoke of the changes at the jail, and of getting rid of Armor, at a 2 p.m. news conference announced a little over an hour beforehand. He said during the conference that he disagreed with any attitude that reduces inmates to “just inmates,” saying “they are fellow human beings,” and acknowledging that Anthony “was well behaved in our custody and he was trying to make positive changes in his life despite past struggles and mistakes.”

Asked today how that approach squared with his “Green Roof Inn” sign outside the jail, Staly maintained that it was there as “crime prevention,” and that it wasn’t going anywhere. “It’s there to reduce recidivism, that’s all that sign is,” he said. “We booked in 3,100 people last year. Out of that, I had nine cases, nine offenders that resisted my detention deputies, out of 3,100 arrests. That is one quarter of one percent of all arrests. Since I have been sheriff, the number of arrests and population of the jail have increased 52 percent, and our use of force has decreased. The deputies know what I expect. Candidates come to me for an interview to be hired as a deputy sheriff, I tell them, you are to treat our inmates like you want to be treated if you are on the other side of that cell. They know that expectation and I think the proof of that is the reduction in the use of force, the increase in arrests, at the same time as that reduction, and all the programs that I’ve implemented in that jail to stem the tide of recidivism.”

He said he had a “legal and moral responsibility for the care of people who are in our custody.”

The medical examiner will not have a cause of death in the death of Anthony for another two to three months.

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24 Responses for “Sheriff Fires Armor, Jail Health Provider at Center of Anthony Fennick’s Death, and Institutes Immediate Changes”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Its not gonna bring Anthony back. Little bit to late for that..

  2. Percy's mother says:

    What I don’t understand is why the sheriff would go out of the local healthcare industry and hire a substandard unsatisfactory unresponsive healthcare vendor which offers only substandard LPNs placed in the jail.

    For those who don’t know, it doesn’t take any smarts to be an LPN. An LPN is just a glorified CNA with a 1-year very general educational program basically learning how to take blood pressure, pulse and maybe a pulse oximetry. THAT’S IT. In no way is an LPN qualified to be giving the kind of care that was/is warranted in a jail setting.

    Perhaps the sheriff should start thinking out of the box (talk to Joe Mullins). Think about hiring some well-qualified RNs who HAVE to be smart to get through that program. Hire them directly through the sheriff’s office and put them on the sheriff’s office payroll and FORGET the outside vendor business because no matter what outside vendor / healthcare provider, the coverage provided will be substandard, extremely over-priced and unresponsive.

  3. Fire fire but no flames says:

    I worked in a jail. For a Sheriff who touts how years in Orlando as the #2 ranked officer, he should have made these changes day 1. Sheriff Staly seeks out media attention and only makes changes when forced to. He did it with the situation of his sick employees and the operations center and he is doing it again.

  4. Just another person says:

    The sheriff is a PUNK

  5. Stretchem says:

    “What I can do is do everything I can to make sure that this nothing like this happens again.”

    Does this include not being on the other side of the planet playing Ninja Warrior in the desert while your tiny town department is in shambles?

  6. AnonymousPC says:

    Anybody look into how many nurses, deputies, and supervisors on duty were working mandatory 16 hour shifts?

  7. Brian says:

    This is a sad and tragic story, and my sympathy for Erika Williams and her family has run so deep that I feel like I know her personally. I commend Sheriff Staly for his actions and response to this situation, and I believe that he too is sincerely sorry for the outcome of this situation.

  8. Flagler County Citizen says:

    Anthony’s mother is brave to be suffering so much and to poignantly remind the sheriff that her son’s death should not have initiated a change. I think the sheriff’s response is fair, and there should be a consequence. His response seems to acknowledge such is inevitable–not just firing Armor, which is, as Ms. Williams said, a start but not the end.

    That said, I do hope the sheriff’s office takes a hard look at these proposed contracts and their own policy for responding to medical requests. They have to maintain some control over the inmates and their lives. The FCSO should know what challenges rests in inmate care (potential escaping, melodramatics), and must seek to abate these issues while ensuring they have some sort of procedure that safeguards the lives of inmates. The FCSO can look at the costs when reviewing proposals, but they need to look at the care that will be provided. What do the CO’s do and how can the contracts ensure that an inmate is treated before a medical emergency becomes fatal? There has to be an internal emergency action procedure for medical assistance that is handled by the CO’s as well as the medical contractor.

  9. ConstantlyAmazed says:

    Staly, just learned a valuable lesson in “ACCOUNTABILITY POLITICS” DONT GO CHEAP WHEN IT COMES TO LIABILITY. Terminating there contract doesn’t OBSOLVE the YOUR CULPABILITY. As Harry Truman once said THE BUCK STOPS WITH HERE and that means your desk.

  10. Realist says:

    Leave it to Sheriff Staly to fire Armor and deflect any responsibility for this fiasco. I believe all the deputies who denied him medical attention should be investigated.

  11. Thomas says:

    I admire the Sheriff’s quick action on this case. Other elements of the County government would have taken months.

  12. Concerned Citizen says:

    So this is a first. Sheriff Staly is actually taking responsability for something. Nothing like locking the barn door after the cows get out.

    Good for the Willams family to keep pushing. Time and time again this agency has had numerous issues in the jail and with it’s deputies in general. Yet nothing is done. The BOCC won’t even step in.

    I take it that by Staly “assuming full responsability” we can expect forthcoming charges on those responsable for this incident? And why is it taking two to three months for the ME to get back?

    Seems unnecesarily long to me. Hopefully they aren’t dragging it out intentionally. I still think an internal investigation reeks of cover up. If you’re promoting true transperency have the Feds and FDLE come in.

  13. Laura says:

    Part of the problem is the credentials of the medical staff. The LPN should not have been put in that position without proper supervision.

  14. Shannon Trivino says:

    All good moves, Sheriff, and important steps toward treating these inmates with dignity and respect and providing them with the medical care they are entitled to and that is your responsibility to provide. But these are also basic steps that should have been in place long ago and that could have saved my nephew’s life. Why did it take a healthy young man’s death for you to care about the lax medical care that’s been provided (or not) in your Green Roof Inn for a long time?

  15. Michael Kittrell says:

    He is so proud of his GREEN ROOF INN. HE SHOULD BE PUNISHED THE HEALTH OF THE INMATES ARE IMPORTANT THAN HIS TV INTERVIEWS.

  16. Steve says:

    The more layers the less control and more chance of something bad happening

  17. next election says:

    Only thing Staly cares about is getting his mug in front of a camera. If it takes an inmate to die in his jail so be it. Guy makes me sick. Got to get him outa here next election

  18. Lily mimowski says:

    They are “not just inmates” “treat them how you would like to be treated?” Would they want to eat rotten fruit, mystery meat that is technically produced from rodents and the bland cardboard consistency oatmeal? The inmates are treated like animals. They are fed the same inedible food for pretty much every meal. They sleep with the lights on, no pillow. As mentioned before, Anthony sweated and soaked his linens and they refused to give him dry ones. There are a lot more problems than the medical ones at the Flagler County Jail. The whole place needs to be investigated. Inhumane treatment of inmates, many of whom have not gone to trial for their crimes yet. What is the promise of innocent until proven guilty by a court of law. All I have to say is if you treated others that way …say in a nursing facility of innocent people, you would be fined and shut down. So obviously the sheriff is not telling the truth when he speaks of standards for his deputies or the duty for moral and ethical treatment of the inmates.

  19. Ginger says:

    Well said. No need to generalize and offend all LPNs and CNAs. It’s not like a janitor was put in that position. The department is the one with poor judgment.

  20. Incorrect says:

    As an RN I am going to disagree with most of you. Many LPN’s have more “skills” than an RN and just don’t get the pay. This isn’t an LPN problem. I have worked in a jail setting and healthcare is inadequate. They hire doctor’s rs who are willing to signn Off on work nurses do.
    Most citizens are OK with it, until somebody dies. Let’s look at how we really treat the weakest members of our society’s ty. Until then; I will still compare us to North Korea, because honestly its barbaric. And if you want that for our society, say it. Bring on the (“dont want to
    Be treated bad, don’t make a mistake comments. And then read my North Korea comment. RiP Anthony )

  21. Kelli says:

    “Percy’s Mother” you are very wrong is you assessment of what LPN’s are. You really should educate yourself. They are Not ‘glorified cna’s’. They work under the supervision of an RN but they admit and discharge patients, head to toe assessments, give medications, follow doctors orders, start IV’s, do dressing changes, have the same patient load as their coworker RN’s, even precept RN’s, etc. After graduation they have to pass NCLEX for licensure, just like RN’s. I know LPN’s that run circles around RN’s. Do not criticize a nurse for the type of nurse she or he is, most people are incapable of doing the job that a nurse does.

  22. Right says:

    Staly spoke of the changes at the jail, and of getting rid of Armor, at a 2 p.m. news conference announced a little over an hour beforehand. He said during the conference that he disagreed with any attitude that reduces inmates to “just inmates,” saying “they are fellow human beings.

    Ok this guy is something else. He disagrees with any attitude that reduces inmates to just inmates. The Sheriff needs to take a good hard look in the mirror. How he can even utter those words when his own attitude reduces these people. Does our sheriff think they are inmates and fellow human beings or “dirtbags” because I’m a little confused. Seems our Sheriff lacks the forethought to see how a certain attitude could eventually bite him in the ass. He has brought FCSO to a new low. Do the county a favor and don’t seek re-election in 2020. You got your bucket list wish Sheriff Woody and when this term concludes maybe you should just hop on ole Bullseye and ride off into the sunset or go back into Andy’s toy box…whichever.

  23. David S says:

    This should have been on the national news…..

  24. HonkeyDude says:

    @Right….. He can jump on Buzz’s back and go “To infinity and beyond!”

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