CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – With seven deaths in the last 26 months, Charleston County leaders on Thursday selected a new medical service provider for the Al Cannon Detention Center.

The new provider will take over once the contract with the current provider, WellPath, expires.

Charleston County leaders discussed recent proposals received for inmate medical services from three different health service companies.

“This is a normal process we go through,” Charleston County Council Chairman Herbert Sass III said, “vendors change. We’re going through the procurement process right now, which actually started over a year ago.”

Sass says it’s important for the Al Cannon Detention Center to have competent medical services, which is why they’ve conducted extensive evaluations on each company.

“They were graded,” he said, “and four people from the sheriff’s office and one person from our procurement did the grading.”

Based on their evaluation, the committee determined VitalCore Health Strategies would be the most beneficial to the jail, and after deliberating for nearly an hour in executive session, County Council came back with a decision.

“One of the three stood out,” Sass said, “and that one was recommended to us by procurement, and that’s what we picked for tonight.”

Their decision, a timely one, after Congresswoman Nancy Mace, Charleston County Councilman Teddie Pryor and other lawmakers toured the detention center earlier this week. At the conclusion of their visit, they said mental health and staffing are serious concerns.

But after council’s selection of VitalCore Health Strategies Thursday, they are hopeful circumstances will begin to improve at the detention center.

“I think this is an opportunity to get a new vendor in,” Sass said, “and I’d like to see things improve. Absolutely.”

County Council will vote to make their decision official during their next meeting on Tuesday, April 4.