PMC stresses patient privacy

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Special to the Herald Times

MEEKER | “In a small town, privacy is even more important…privacy is critical,” said Ken Harman, Pioneers Medical Center chief executive officer, at the June monthly meeting of the hospital’s board of directors.

Privacy and alleged infringements of it to a “customer,” (as the woman who came to give her public comment at this month’s meeting called herself) was the first item on the agenda.

She claimed the hospital mishandled her privacy and that this caused her extra stress at a time when her worries about her health were on red-alert. She wanted the board to hear her impassioned story and her concerns and the board did.

When she finished, board members politely thanked her and she left, causing one board member to voice dismay that the woman’s issues weren’t addressed. Harman assured him the proper channels had been followed and there had been resolution. Then Harman proceeded to speak about the topic of privacy in general and why it’s important, especially in a small community.

In 1996, under the Clinton administration, HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, was born. In essence, the federal government, under this act, provides a framework to all healthcare organizations regarding authorization to disclose health care information, like to whom to disclose and what type of information will be disclosed, as well as the duration of said authorization.

At Pioneers Medical Center, there are two ways patients’ privacy are addressed: at registration patients are given forms asking if they want their information to be shared and with whom and through the hospital’s patient portal, an online place for patients’ privacy, accessed through a password which the patient can share with anyone they choose.

During a phone interview after the meeting, Harman again addressed the critical responsibility of privacy with this, “The great thing about small towns is that everyone cares and everyone knows what’s going on. The bad thing about a small town is that everyone cares and everyone knows what’s going on.”

Harman would like to stay on the great side of our small town by ensuring that the federal privacy mandates put forth by the HIPAA act are followed for each and every patient served by Pioneers Medical Center.

What this means for us is that all our neighbors can care about us, without everyone having to know why they care.