Medical and mental health services for the Northern Branch Jail will cost Santa Barbara County an additional $2.8 million for 2021-22, and a portion of that for the current year depending on when the facility opens, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday reviewed the amended contract with California Forensic Medical Group, now known as Wellpath after a merger.

The company already provides the services for the Santa Barbara-area Main Jail and health care services at the Probation Department-run Juvenile Hall and Los Prietos Boys Camp. 

Amendments to the five-year contract, which runs through 2022, include adding services and staff members at the new jail near Santa Maria.

The contract amount was not to exceed $36.8 million, which was split between the Sheriff’s Department (which paid $30 million for jail services) and the Probation Department.

Changes will cost the county about $5.7 million more for the last two years of the contract. The Northern Branch Jail has not opened yet, so costs there will start accruing once it does — most likely later in 2020.

The original contract calls for CFMG to obtain National Commission on Correctional Health Care accreditation, which it still has not done.

Sheriff’s Commander Ryan Sullivan said CFMP/Wellpath applied for the accreditation last July, and a March audit was postponed because of the novel coronavirus.

The company submitted an application last year and is awaiting an audit for the probation facilities as well, according to the county.

Sullivan also said that the contract can be renegotiated if the county has a significant, lengthy decrease in the jail inmate population.

Although hundreds of jail inmates have been released in recent months because of the pandemic, the Sheriff’s Department is not pursuing a cost adjustment since Wellpath staff members are doing more work looking after people in custody right now, he told the Board of Supervisors.

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at gmagnoli@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.