The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

March 26, 2013

Somerset, company extend deal

Firm provides medical treatment at county jail

SOMERSET — A sometimes-controversial working relationship between Somerset County and PrimeCare Medical Inc. remains intact, at least for now.

Commissioners Pamela Tokar-Ickes and John Vatavuk voted to extend an agreement with the Harrisburg-based company that currently provides medical treatment at Somerset County Jail. The arrangement is scheduled to last from April 1 until Sept. 30, although it can be reviewed on a month-to-month basis.

The third commissioner, Joe Betta, opposed the contract. In the process of researching the agreement between the prison and PrimeCare, Betta claims to have interviewed workers who complained about a hostile work environment and sexual harassment.

The agreement with the medical service provider originally expired at the end of 2012, when the commissioners extended it for only three months because of concerns about other allegations, according to Vatavuk. Tokar-Ickes feels the length of the new extension should provide enough time to finish all investigations.

“I find it incredible that I’m being asked to go into a six-month agreement with an organization that has a track record of tolerating mismanagement, interrupting my inquiry and my search for the truth at the jail, and the massive coordinated obstructions that have been thrown before me during my inquiry,” Betta said. “How could I possibly agree to sign a six-month extension?”

PrimeCare Medical Inc. Vice President of Operations Todd Haskins said he could not comment when contacted via telephone after the meeting.

Betta had been conducting interviews on his own until the county prison board told him to stop and let the Somerset Borough Police Department handle the matter during a special meeting on March 15. Taking exception to the decision, he responded to a request for information from Vatavuk by saying, “Because of your coordinated obstructions to my inquiry, the (prison board) determined that it should be turned over to law enforcement. I’m not at liberty to give you statements, and you know that, but it was a nice try.”

No new allegations were brought to light by Betta at the commissioners meeting.

“If there are other complaints over there, at that jail, then they should be writing a formal complaint to the warden, and the warden should address it to HR,” Vatavuk said. “That’s the protocol here. That’s the policy. And, I don’t know, if these other people have complaints, why they haven’t come forward.”

Tokar-Ickes, chairwoman of the prison board, said formal steps are in place to handle workplace accusations.

“Our sexual harassment policy and protocol is very specific,” she said. “It is in our employee handbook. HR does not have any new allegations, which is the protocol to investigate allegations of sexual harassment by the county of Somerset.”

Betta thinks workers are concerned about coming forward for fear of being called a “snitch” or “dirty rat.”

 

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat e-edition.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • Denne, Williams & Stanton Records hearing scheduled

    A Cambria County judge will consider complaints filed by two Johnstown residents seeking documents related to the city’s municipal waste water operation at hearing at the end of this month.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sen. Bob Casey Casey targets heroin

    The heroin trade has brought addiction, death, violence and theft to Johnstown and other Pennsylvania communities.
    Figuring out how to deal with those issues is difficult for local, state and federal officials.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Drive-in to open with high-tech projector

    Drive-in movie theaters and the term “state of the art” seldom share the same sentence.
    But that will soon be the case for the Silver Drive-In, it’s owner said. The Scalp Avenue site, often marketed as a nostalgic summer night escape, soon will boast a high-end projector capable of displaying the latest and greatest blockbusters in razor sharp high-definition, theater owner Rick Rosco said.

    April 18, 2014

  • Sheetz work underway

    Earthmoving is underway at Richland Town Centre for a nearly 6,500-square-foot Sheetz store.
    And the real estate broker marketing the land says a 3,000-square-foot retail building will be built next door.

    April 18, 2014

  • Smith, Shakir Mosi Police seize heroin, money in Prospect

    Johnstown police reported that several bricks of heroin, along with $4,000 in cash and a handgun, were discovered in the city's Prospect neighborhood around 4 a.m. Friday. An arrest warrant has been issued for the man be­lieved to be the owner or renter of the two homes raided.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Comedy night targets serious problem

    Animal advocates are using comedy to take aim at a serious problem.
    The third annual Funny Fundraiser to benefit the Nardecchia Spay and Neuter Fund will be held at 8 p.m. May 16 at Ace’s, 316 Chestnut St. in the Cambria City section of Johnstown.

    April 18, 2014

  • Local briefs 4/19/2014

    April 18, 2014

  • Early morning police raid in Prospect area leads to arrest warrant

    Johnstown police reported that several bricks of heroin, along with $4,000 in cash and a handgun, were discovered in the city's Prospect neighborhood around 4 a.m. this morning.

    April 18, 2014

  • Home is Where The Tribune-Democrat is Delivered!

    April 18, 2014

  • new councilman Judge fills City Council vacancy

    A lifelong Johnstown resident who has never sought election to public office was named Thursday to fill the vacancy on City Council.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

Do you think that Jack Williams will get the 270 signatures from city residents needed in order to have a referendum placed on a municipal ballot to have the city's pressure test mandate repealed?

Yes
No
I'm not sure
     View Results
House Ads