DougCo extends contract with health company Colorado fired

Mike McKibbin
A COVID-19 vaccine bottles mockup (does not depict actual vaccine). |Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash

By Mike McKibbin/NewsBreak Denver | July 21, 2022

[DOUGLAS COUNTY, COLO.] — Douglas County officials stand behind a $3.5 million contract with a healthcare company that Colorado officials suspended from performing similar COVID-19 pandemic-related work.

The county commissioners approved a $1.5 million contract with Jogan Health Solutions on Dec. 1, 2021, using state pass-through money for COVID-19 protection services support. On June 14, the commissioners approved a $2 million contract amendment that runs through the end of this year.

State funding covered costs for the first half of the year. The amendment used additional state funding to pay Jogan for the remaining six months.

Meanwhile, state health officials suspended their contract with Jogan after questions surfaced about their application and learning ex-employees said the company failed to pay them.

A Douglas County local government watchdog then questioned the county's contract with Jogan.

County officials "meet regularly with (state health officials) to assess the performance of Jogan consistent with our grant deliverables and Jogan has always been found to be in compliance by the state," according to a statement.

Numbers cited by Jogan, DougCo differ

Jogan Health's website states the company provides healthcare staffing, such as vaccines and testing, emergency and core staffing. It also lists public health and epidemiological services, including contact tracing and case investigation. The site adds that "services can be implemented independently or to complement and assist local public health agencies."

In a June 6 news release, Jogan Health claimed it:
• Administered more than 1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses;
• Set up more than 4,000 mobile clinics; and
• Helped staff more than 200 facilities in Colorado, Oregon, New Mexico and Washington.

Jogan cited numbers from Colorado Public Health and Environment as "one example of a successful private-public partnership."

"In Douglas County alone, Jogan Health was able to maintain a minimum 90% COVID-19 case contact rate, respond to over 34,000 cases of COVID-19 and manage 63 outbreaks of COVID-19," according to the Jogan release.

The county said Jogan Health managed 45,395 COVID-19 cases, contacted 99.02% of those cases and managed 83 outbreaks of COVID-19 since Nov. 22, 2021. The numbers are for Douglas County reported to the Colorado Electronic Disease Reporting System.

A Jogan spokesman said he could not arrange an interview with company officials about the discrepancies and the county contract. The company emailed a statement instead:

"Jogan Health is proud of the things we accomplished as a private healthcare company partnering with government agencies to help save lives and serve communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to the healthcare professionals we employ, we were able to help our partners in public health have greater success in managing healthcare during times of need. Jogan Health's mission is to care for caregivers and care for communities. That mission is something we focus on every day."
A laboratory worker takes a swab test in this mockup photo. |Photo by Mufid Majnun on Unsplash

Health order forces county to act alone

The county contract followed an Oct. 8, 2021, Douglas County public health order the Tri-County Health Department deemed limited its ability to address masking, quarantine and isolation related to the pandemic.

Tri-County viewed the order as "precluding their ability to do their job" and gave Douglas County five days' notice of termination of COVID protection services, according to a written timeline attributed to Jon Surbeck, the county's manager of emergency preparations and disease surveillance.

The county denied requests by NewsBreak Denver for interviews with county officials and supplied written information instead.

A June 21 email from Robert Marshall, a local government watchdog and Democratic candidate for the state legislature in a Douglas County district, to the commissioners and board of health questioned the Jogan contract.

Earlier this year, Marshall sued the Douglas County School District for violations of the Colorado Open Records Act by four conservative school board members.

Marshall's email to the county focused on a June 19 Denver7 story that said Jogan told state health officials they had worked for three companies on the state's application for COVID-19-related services. However, all three companies denied awarding any work to Jogan.

State health officials admitted not conducting reference checks but insisted they extensively investigated the company before awarding a $72 million contract to Jogan in March 2021.

The story also said many former Jogan employees claimed they were owed thousands of dollars in back pay. Meanwhile, Jogan owner Dan Dietrich purchased multi-million-dollar homes, including one in Parker.

Nine months after the state awarded Jogan the contract, it stopped sending the company work. The state's contract with Jogan officially ended on June 30.

Jogan Health replied to the Denver7 story on the station's YouTube channel on June 21:

"Jogan Health is incredibly proud of our work for the communities of Colorado and the nation. In a time of massive crisis we teamed up with industry veterans and we were able to vaccinate, test and provide care for millions of people. Our mission is to care and we carry out that mission every day. Our commitment to communities in need and our dedicated caregivers, in addition to the lives we continue to save, speak for themselves."
Photo by DICSON on Unsplash

Two companies submit proposals

Surbeck noted between the time Tri-County gave five days' notice and Nov. 22, 2021, contractual and policy discussions occurred between the county and Tri-County. The scope and transition date frequently changed during this time.

County staff used this time to understand the activities and systems required to provide COVID-19 protection services and identify companies that provide those services, Surbeck continued.

The county contacted eight such companies, but only a few provided the services previously offered by Tri-County. Randstad USA and Jogan submitted proposals for county review.

The county approved the Jogan contract as an emergency purchase rather than through its competitive bid process.

"Jogan Health offered an on-site staffing solution within Douglas County that we could easily visit/monitor, and utilized secure computers rather than personal devices," Surbeck wrote. "The county was aware of Jogan Health's services through a state contract where Jogan provided COVID testing and vaccinations at a Douglas County-owned facility. Finally, Jogan Health (provided) professional services to (Tri-County) and (state health department) and was recommended by both organizations for their services."

'Incompetence and questionable business practices'

Marshall's email said the state cut off any further work with Jogan "due to its incompetence and questionable business practices."

"Yet DougCo's commissioners and amateur board of health continues to tolerate this shady business for public health matters," Marshall wrote. "Why? Does it have anything to do with Jogan being a local contractor who bought a 22,000-square-foot home in Parker for millions of dollars? Jogan did not have ANY of the experience they claimed in contracting for public health."

Surbeck responded to Marshall's email on June 21, calling the Denver7 story "negative" and that it had "no bearing or relationship with the contract we have in place for COVID-19 protection services."

"Our experience with Jogan Health has been favorable and their work products have consistently met our requirements, as well as (the state health department), for the underlying body of works," Surbeck wrote. "There are multiple performance validations and grant deliverable associated with the contract they are governed by. Daily, weekly and monthly deliverables are completed in a timely and high quality fashion. None of the alleged elements contained within the Channel 7 report have been encountered in our relationship with the vendor."

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As an editor and bureau reporter, I have won numerous Colorado Press Association and Associated Press awards.

Denver, CO

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