Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Bergen, Passaic Health Firms among 3 Dozen Fined by State

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Bergen, Passaic Health Firms among 3 Dozen Fined by State

Article excerpt

State consumer authorities announced Thursday more than $240,000 in fines to 36 health care service firms for such violations as keeping inadequate patient or employee records or failing to properly register their businesses.

The firms targeted by the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs - which included 10 in Bergen and Passaic counties -- are agencies that place companions or personal-care aides in the homes of senior citizens and the disabled.

"People paying for in-home health care services for their loved ones have a right to expect those services will be tailored to meet their loved ones' needs, and will be provided by qualified individuals working under proper supervision," said Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino. "Firms that fail to meet these standards are not only violating the trust of their clients, they're breaking the law."

A law that took effect in 2014 required such agencies -- which have multiplied over the past decade as more elderly and disabled people seek care in their homes rather than in institutions -- to register with the consumer affairs division, which employs four investigators in a new special health service firms unit.

There are now more than 1,100 health services firms throughout the state, and they are subject to new record-keeping requirements, such as providing proof that a patient care plan was created and follow-up assessments were conducted, as well as evidence that employees are certified and insured to provide needed care.

Another new state law will require that these firms by 2017 undergo an accreditation process aimed at insuring not only that all state regulations are followed but that these agencies also adopt what is known as "best practices" standards of care, said Donald Winant, executive director of the Commission on Accreditation for Home Care Inc., based in Saddle Brook. …

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