Strafford County Sheriff Mark Brave and his deputies are getting the boot from Frisbie Memorial Hospital as the Rochester healthcare facility is moving its security staff in-house. Hospital administrators say it’s about money, but observers suspect the recent scandals involving Brave and his wife, Jamie, also played a role.
Brave’s contract ends on July 22, according to a letter sent to Brave this week. The hospital’s Chief Financial Officer Matt Untch told Brave the reason for the termination is finances.
“I am writing to inform you that Frisbie Memorial Hospital will be terminating our contract with the Strafford County Sheriff’s Office effective July 22nd, 2023, due to budgetary constraints and improvements to Security staffing,” Untch wrote.
The contract with Frisbie is worth up to $100,000 annually for Brave’s department. Brave thanked the hospital administration for the contract in place for the last year and a half.
“I would like to thank the Frisbie Hospital administration and staff for utilizing my office as a resource and a tool during a time of need,” Brave said in a statement. “The SCSO team will always be available in the future to your organization if needed.”
News of the cancellation comes months after Mark Brave’s wife, Jamie Brave, left her job as Frisbie’s Chief Nursing Officer following a drunk driving arrest in December. According to police reports, Mark Brave was a passenger in the couple’s Mercedes at the time of his wife’s arrest, but he was too intoxicated to drive home. Police took the sheriff to a friend’s home nearby while his wife was booked.
The hospital has stated Jamie Brave was not involved in the original negotiations that gave the six-figure contract to her husband’s department. However, a whistleblower recently told NH Journal that Jamie Brave was key to initially bringing the sides together.
Senior Director of Marketing and Communications for Frisbie, Ellen Miller, did not mention the DUI arrest as a reason for the contract termination. Instead, she said hiring Brave’s department was always meant to be a temporary fix until the hospital could hire more of its own staff.
“Frisbie’s contract with the sheriff’s office, while valuable, was intended to be a short-term solution. As of this April, we are pleased to share that our hospital security team is once again fully staffed and able to provide 24-hour coverage,” Miller said. “By moving security services back in-house, we are able to employ full-time security staff who receive health benefits.”
According to Miller, the contract was necessary to give the hospital time to find qualified people to work as in-house security. However, the hospital previously maintained it contracted with Brave’s department to boost security following a 2020 incident that left a hospital security staffer fatally injured. Rick Semo, a Frisbie security guard, was assaulted by Tyler Thurston outside the hospital’s emergency room in December 2020. Semo died days later from his injuries.
Raising more questions is the fact that, at the time Frisbie was giving Brave’s department the $100,000-a-year contract, the hospital’s parent company was recommending cuts to the security team.
Weeks after Semo’s death, an executive with Frisbie’s parent company, Tennessee-based HCA Healthcare, issued a report recommending the cuts to security staff. To cut security, according to an internal report obtained by NHJournal. HCA’s Kat Kemper’s report stated Frisbie needs only one security officer on duty at all times, 24/7, and one supervisor on duty 40 hours a week.
The Frisbie contract was not Brave’s only security contract. The Strafford County Sheriff’s Office also provides a deputy to the Farmington School District to serve as a School Resource Officer/Truancy Officer.
Brave, a Democrat who is New Hampshire’s first elected Black sheriff, ran for office on a platform opposing placing police officers in schools.