Sealed proposals sought for jail

WARREN — Trumbull County commissioners on Wednesday increased the amount of the jail medical program by $4,000 a month and started the process for seeking sealed proposals to run the medical program at the Trumbull County Jail.

The contract for Dr. Phillip Malvasi was costing $304,125 a year. The increase of $48,000 brings the total to $352,125.

“There is an extra 50 to 60 inmates there that weren’t supposed to be, about 330 on average,” Malvasi said. “This has forced me to bring in more staff. This raise is a direct reflection of adding an additional medical staff person.”

Malvasi has run the inmate medical program since 2000. The last time his contract was altered was in 2012, when it was raised to $304,000 per year — an increase of approximately $29,000 to add a medical assistant. The contract has been renewed automatically on a month-to-month basis since.

Although county officials have been happy with Malvasi’s performance, commissioners felt it was important to do their “due diligence” and get new proposals, said commissioner Mauro Cantalamessa.

Major Dan Mason, jail administrator for the Trumbull County Sheriff’s Office, said Malvasi’s services have been adequate, but there is a need for more medical staff at the facility.

“We have to meet the Ohio jail standards, and part of that is a medical evaluation. With us above capacity, it is taxing (Malvasi’s) employees. We need more to handle the workload,” Mason said.

Malvasi does not take the contracted amount as a salary, he uses it to pay for staff he hires to work in the jail.

There were 330 inmates in the jail Wednesday afternoon. The jail was initially built with 286 beds, but some are out of commission. Some inmates sleep in “boats,” which are portable, mattress-like cushions on the floor.

Commissioners in May considered a contract of $372,204 a year for Malvasi, but removed it from the agenda. At the time, Malvasi was pursuing an appointment to the position of Trumbull County coroner, which was filled by members of the Trumbull County Democratic Party.

But the party selected deputy coroner Dr. Thomas James to take over the coroner position, which was left vacant in April when Dr. Humphrey Germaniuk died.

James’ appointment doesn’t last through Germaniuk’s term, which continues through 2020, so another election will be held.

Malvasi has said he is not interested in pursuing the coroner position again. But if he were to, Malvasi would have to show he is doing the work for the jail under a contract that existed, unchanged, before he becomes coroner, according to the ethics commission opinion.