VNSHS Privacy Notice



Your Right to Privacy Protection

In order to provide you with health care services, The Visiting Nurse Service and Hospice of Suffolk (VNS) acquires individually identifiable health information about you, which is "Protected Health Information" (PHI). The agency is required by law to maintain the privacy of your PHI. Under this law known as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), VNS is required to provide you with this notice of its legal duties and privacy practices with respect to your PHI. This notice explains how that protection is provided and that VNS is mandated to abide by the terms of this notice. VNS reserves the right to change its privacy practices, but when it does, it will provide you with a written copy of any material change within 60 days after such a change becomes effective.

Your Right to Complain About Violations to Protected Health Information

If you believe that your privacy rights have been violated, you may complain to the Privacy Officer, either in writing addressed to 505 Main St, Northport, NY 11768 or by telephone at 631-261-7200. Complaints may also be made in writing to the Secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services, Hubert Humphrey Building, 200 Independence Avenue SW, Washington DC 20201.

There will be no adverse consequences if you file a complaint.

Effective Date of This Notice
The effective date of this notice is April 14, 2003.


Uses and Disclosures of Your Medical Information
VNS may acquire PHI about you for purposes of your treatment, payment of benefits or provisions of health care services, or for overall health care operations. This PHI will not be disclosed to anyone without your express written authorization, except as follows:

Disclosure for Treatment, Payment and Health Care Operations
Under HIPAA, PHI may be disclosed, without your written consent or authorization, to covered entities, which include:

  • VNS staff and administration
  • Your health care provider
  • The insurer/administrator of the plan under which you receive service
  • Other insurers or administrators of any plan that provides additional services to you
  • Any health care clearinghouse
  • Any Business Associate of VNS or Covered Entity involved in your care. A "Business Associate" is an entity that provides related services to VNS or any Covered Entity, and has entered into a contract under which it agrees to abide by the rules and regulations established pursuant to federal law and regulations to protect the privacy of your PHI.

Examples of the disclosures that will be made to any of the Covered Entities described above include, but are not limited to:

  1. Treatment:
    VNS discusses your clinical status with your physician to ensure proper care and follow-up.
  2. Payment:
    VNS contacts your insurance carrier for authorization and coverage determinations.
  3. Health Care Operations:
    VNS is frequently audited by state and regulatory agencies to ensure it remains compliant with regulations governing quality of care and reimbursement.


Additional Disclosures and Contacts Without Authorization

  1. VNS may contact you to raise funds for its operations.
  2. VNS may contact you to provide appointment reminders or information about treatment alternatives or other health-related benefits and services that may be of interest to you.

Disclosures Required by Law

Your PHI will be disclosed, without your written consent or authorization, when required by law. This may include disclosure for any of the following purposes:

  1. Public Health Activities
  2. Abuse, Neglect or Domestic Violence
  3. Law Enforcement Purposes
  4. Requests From a Coroner or Medical Examiner
  5. Requests From a Funeral Director
  6. Subpoenas or Requests For Discovery
  7. Compliance With Worker’s Compensation Laws
  8. Oversight of Activities Authorized by Law

VNS is also required by law to provide all PHI to the Secretary of Health and Human Services for enforcement purposes.

All Other Uses and Disclosures

All other uses and disclosures of your PHI, including but not limited to medical research, will only be made with your written authorization which you may subsequently revoke, in writing, at any time.



Restriction on the Use of Protected Health Information
You have the right to request that VNS restrict the use and disclosure of your PHI to carry out treatment, payment and health care operations described above, or disclosure to a member of your family, other relative or close personal friend who is directly involved with or responsible for your care or payment for that care. This request must be made in writing but VNS is not required to honor your request.

Confidential Communications
You have the right to request in writing that we communicate with you about your PHI in a certain way or at a certain location. VNS will make reasonable accommodations that it deems appropriate.

Inspection of Your Protected Health Information
You have the right to inspect and receive copies of your PHI maintained in VNS files, except for:

  1. Psychotherapy notes
  2. Information compiled in reasonable anticipation of, or for use in, a civil, criminal, or administrative action or proceeding
  3. Information maintained by VNS pursuant to the Clinical Laboratory Improvements Amendments of 1988, to the extent applicable under that law

If access to your PHI is denied, you may have a right to have that denial reviewed, but only under the following circumstances when:

  1. A licensed health care provider has determined that the access requested is likely to endanger your life or physical safety
  2. That information refers to another person and a licensed health care provider has determined that the access requested is likely to endanger that person’s life or physical safety
  3. The request is made by your authorized personal representative and a health care provider has determined that the access requested is reasonably likely to cause substantial harm to you or another person


The following administrative procedures will apply:

  • All requests for inspection and copying of one’s medical records must be made in writing. Requests must be addressed to the Privacy Officer.
  • VNS will act upon your request within 60 days of receiving it.
  • You may be charged the reasonable cost of copying the PHI, postage or other charges incurred in providing the information to you.
  • You will be advised of your right to appeal a denied request for that information if you have such a right, or that you have no such right, if it is not available.
  • If VNS does not maintain that information and knows where that information is maintained, you will be advised where to direct your request for access to it.

Amendment of Your Protected Health Information
You have the right to request that your PHI be amended, however, that information may not be amended if it:

  1. Was not created by VNS and the creator of that information is available to act on your request
  2. Is not part of VNS records
  3. Would not be available for your inspection, as indicated above
  4. Is accurate and complete

Receipt of an Accounting of Disclosure
You have the right to receive a six-year accounting of disclosures of your PHI, except for disclosures:

  1. That occurred before April 14, 2003
  2. To carry out treatment, payment and/or health care operations, as described above
  3. Of Protected Health Information about other individuals
  4. To you
  5. Permitted or otherwise required by applicable law or regulation
  6. Pursuant to written authorization by you or by your authorized representative
  7. For national security or intelligence purposes, as required by applicable law or regulation
  8. To correctional institutions or law enforcement officials, as required by applicable law or regulation.

Additional Information
Should you have questions about this notice or your rights applicable to your PHI, contact the Privacy Officer, in writing addressed to Visiting Nurse Service and Hospice of Suffolk, 505 Main St. Northport, NY 11768, or by telephone at 631-261-7200.



Corporate Compliance

The Visiting Nurse Service and Hospice of Suffolk (VNSHS) Corporate Compliance Plan has been established to demonstrate and ensure  the Agency’s commitment to complying with all federal, state, local laws and regulations relating to all aspects of our programs.

Our Corporate Compliance Program secures our commitment to communicate the commitment of management to compliance with laws, regulations, and standards of care, ethical business practices and the basic standards expected in the workplace.
The Plan also ensures that all those associated with the VNSHS understand their responsibility for complying with these laws and regulations and specifically with their responsibility as part of the Corporate Compliance Plan.

Our Corporate Compliance Plan has the full endorsement of our Board of Trustees and Administrative Staff.

The VNSHS has a Corporate Compliance Director who is available during work hours to answer questions regarding a possible violation of laws, regulations, standards of care, or ethical business practices.

The Corporate Compliance Director can be reached at 631-261-7200 ext. 305, or reports may be made anonymously to 1-800-269-9177. The VNSHS will not tolerate retaliation against those who report compliance issues in good faith.