Privacy Notice

THIS NOTICE DESCRIBES HOW MEDICAL INFORMATION ABOUT YOU MAY BE USED AND DISCLOSED AND HOW YOU CAN GET ACCESS TO THIS INFORMATION. PLEASE REVIEW IT CAREFULLY.

Mental Health Center of North Central Alabama
1316 Somerville Rd. SE, Suite 1 –  Decatur, AL 35601
(256) 355-6105

Operating programs in Lawrence, Limestone, and Morgan Counties.  dba Athens-Limestone Counseling Center; Decatur-Morgan Counseling Center; Moulton-Lawrence Counseling Center; Options; Janus Residential Programs; and The Albany Clinic

The Mental Health Center is required under the federal health care privacy rules (“Privacy Rules” – 45 CFR, Part 164 and 170), Community Mental Health Program Standards (the “Standards”) codified in the Alabama Administrative Code, and the federal Confidentiality of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Patient Records rules (42 CFR, Part 2) to protect the privacy of your health information, which includes information about your health history, symptoms, test results, diagnoses, treatment, and claims and payment history (collectively, “Health Information”). We are also required to provide you with this Privacy Notice regarding our legal duties, policies and procedures to protect and maintain the privacy of your Health Information. We are required to follow the terms of this Privacy Notice unless (and until) it is revised; failure to do so is a violation of the law and regulations and is a crime. We reserve the right to change the terms of this Privacy Notice and to make the new notice provisions effective for the Health Information that we maintain and use, as well as for any Health Information that we may receive in the future. Should the terms of this Privacy Notice change, we will make a revised copy of the notice available to you. Revised Privacy Notices will be available at our office for individuals to take with them and we will post a copy of revised Privacy Notices in a prominent location in our office.[Privacy Notices will also be posted and available electronically on our web site.]

Permitted Uses and Disclosures of Your Health Information

1. General Uses and Disclosures. Under the Privacy Rules, we are permitted to use and disclose your Health Information for the following purposes, without obtaining your permission or Authorization:

  • Treatment. We are permitted to use and disclose your Health Information in the provision and coordination of your health care. This includes cases where you are incapacitated or in an emergency situation, if in the exercise of our professional judgment, the use or disclosure is determined to be in your best interest.
  • Payment. We are permitted to use and disclose your Health Information for the purposes of determining coverage, billing, and reimbursement. This information may be released to an insurance company, third party payor, or other authorized entity or person involved in the payment of your medical bills and may include copies or portions of your medical record which are necessary for payment of your bill. For example, a bill sent to your insurance company may include information that identifies you, your diagnosis, and the procedures and supplies used in your treatment.
  • Health Care Operations. We are permitted to use and disclose your Health Information during our health care operations, including, but not limited to: quality assurance, auditing, licensing or credentialing activities, and for educational purposes. For example, we can use your Health Information to internally assess our quality of care provided to clients.
  • Uses and Disclosures with Opportunity to Agree or Object. We may disclose your Health Information by obtaining informal permission from you when circumstances clearly give you the opportunity to agree or object, including but not limited to: Discussing information with you when you are accompanied by family, relatives, or friends, or to other persons whom you identify when the information is directly relevant to that person’s involvement in your care or payment for care.
  • Uses and Disclosures Required by Law. We may use and disclose your Health Information when required to do so by law, including, but not limited to: reporting abuse, neglect and domestic violence; in response to judicial and administrative proceedings; in responding to a law enforcement request for information; or in order to alert law enforcement to criminal conduct on our premises  or against program personnel, or of a death that may be the result of criminal conduct.
  • Public Health Activities. We may disclose your Health Information for public health reporting, including, but not limited to: abuse and neglect; reporting communicable diseases and vital statistics; product recalls and adverse events; or notifying person(s) who may have been exposed to a disease or are at risk of contracting or spreading a disease or condition, where required by law.
  • Abuse and Neglect. We may disclose your Health Information to a local, state, or federal government authority, including social services or a protective services agency authorized by law to receive such reports, if we have a reasonable belief of abuse, neglect or domestic violence.
  • Regulatory Agencies. We may disclose your Health Information to a health care oversight agency for activities authorized by law, including, but not limited to, licensure, investigations and inspections. These activities are necessary for the government and certain private health oversight agencies to monitor the health care system, government programs, and compliance with civil rights.
  • Judicial and Administrative Proceedings. We may disclose your Health Information in judicial and administrative proceedings, as well as in response to an order of a court, administrative tribunal, or in response to a subpoena, summons, warrant, discovery request, or similar legal request.
  • Law Enforcement Purposes. We may disclose your Health Information to law enforcement officials when required to do so by law.
  • Coroners, Medical Examiners, Funeral Directors. We may disclose your Health Information to a coroner or medical examiner. This may be necessary, for example, to determine a cause of death. We may also disclose your health information to funeral directors, as necessary, to carry out their duties.
  • Organ Donation. We may disclose your Health Information to organ procurement organizations or other entities engaged in the procurement, banking, or transplantation of cadaveric organs, eyes, or tissues.
  • Threats to Health and Safety. We may use or disclose your Health Information if we believe, in good faith, that the use or disclosure is necessary to prevent or lessen a serious or imminent threat to the health or safety of a person or identifiable group of persons.
  • Specialized Government Functions. If you are a member of the U.S. Armed Forces, we may disclose your Health Information as required by military command authorities. We may also disclose your Health Information to authorized federal officials for national security reasons and the Department of State for medical suitability determinations.
  • Inmates. If you are an inmate of a correctional institution or under the custody of a law enforcement official, we may release your Health Information to the correctional institution or law enforcement official, where such information is necessary for the institution to provide you with health care; to protect your health or safety, or the health or safety of others; or for the safety and security of the correctional institution. (To the extent 42 CFR, Part 2 is more restrictive, we will comply with the regulations contained therein).
  • Workers’ Compensation. We may disclose your Health Information to your employer to the extent necessary to comply with Alabama laws relating to workers’ compensation or other similar programs.
  • Appointment Reminders/Treatment Alternatives. We may use and disclose your Health Information to remind you of an appointment for treatment and medical care at our office or to provide you with information regarding treatment alternatives or other health-related benefits and services that may be of interest to you.
  • Business Associates. We may disclose your Health Information to business associates who provide services to us. Our business associates are required to protect the confidentiality of your Health Information.
  • Other Uses and Disclosures. In addition to the reasons outlined above, we may use and disclose your Health Information for other purposes permitted by the Privacy Rules.

2. Uses and Disclosures Which Require Written Authorization. As required by the Privacy Rules, all other uses and disclosures of your Health Information (not described above) will be made only with your written Authorization. Under the Privacy Rules, you may revoke your Authorization at any time. The revocation of your Authorization will be effective immediately, except to the extent that: we have relied upon it previously for the use and disclosure of your Health Information; if the Authorization was obtained as a condition of obtaining insurance coverage where other law provides the insurer with the right to contest a claim under the policy or the policy itself; or where your Health Information was obtained as part of a research study and is necessary to maintain the integrity of the study.

Client Rights
 You have the following rights concerning your Health Information:

1. Right to Inspect and Copy Your Health Information. Upon written request, you have the right to inspect and copy your own Health Information contained in a designated record set, maintained by or for us. A “designated record set” contains medical and billing records and any other records that we use for making decisions about you. However, we are not required to provide you access to all the Health Information that we maintain. For example, this right of access does not extend to psychotherapy notes, or information compiled in reasonable anticipation of, or for use in, a civil, criminal or administrative proceeding. Where permitted by the Privacy Rules, you may request that certain denials to inspect and copy your Health Information be reviewed. If you request a copy or summary of explanation of your Health Information, we may charge you a reasonable fee for copying costs, including the cost of supplies and labor, postage, and any other associated costs in preparing the summary or explanation.

2. Right to Request Restrictions on the Use and Disclosure of Your Health Information. You have the right to request restrictions on the use and disclosure of your Health Information for treatment, payment and health care operations, as well as disclosures to persons involved in your care or payment for your care, such as family members or close friends. We will consider, but do not have to agree to, such requests except that we may not refuse a request to withhold information from a health plan when you have paid in full for the service.

3. Right to Request an Amendment of Your Health Information. You have the right to request an amendment of your Health Information. We may deny your request if we determine that you have asked us to amend information that: was not created by us, unless the person or entity that created the information is no longer available; is not Health Information maintained by or for us; is Health Information that you are not permitted to inspect or copy; or we determine that the information is accurate and complete. If we disagree with your requested amendment, we will provide you with a written explanation of the reasons for the denial, an opportunity to submit a statement of disagreement, and a description of how you may file a complaint.

4. Right to an Accounting of Disclosures of Your Health Information. You have the right to receive an accounting of disclosures of your Health Information made by us within six (6) years prior to the date of your request. The accounting will not include: disclosures related to treatment, payment or health care operations; disclosures to you; disclosures based on your Authorization; disclosures that are part of a Limited Data Set; incidental disclosures; disclosures to persons involved in your care or payment for your care; disclosures to correctional institutions or law enforcement officials; disclosures for facility directories; or disclosures that occurred prior to April 14, 2003.

5. Right to Alternative Communications. You have the right to receive confidential communications of your Health Information by a different means or at a different location than currently provided. For example, you may request that we only contact you at home or by mail.

6. Right to Receive a Paper Copy of this Privacy Notice. You have the right to receive a paper copy of this Privacy Notice upon request, even if you have agreed to receive this Privacy Notice electronically.

If you want to exercise any of these rights, please contact our Privacy Officer. All requests must be submitted to us in writing on a designated form (which we will provide to you), and returned to the attention of our Privacy Officer at the address below.

Contact Information and How to Report A Privacy Rights Violation.

If you have questions and/or would like additional information regarding the uses and disclosures of your Health Information, you may contact our Privacy Officer at:

Mental Health Center of North Central Alabama
1316 Somerville Rd. SE, Suite 1 –  Decatur, AL 35601
Phone: (256) 355-6105 /  Fax: (256) 341-0747 / Website: mhcnca.org

Address enveloped or other correspondence to:  Attention Privacy Officer

If you believe that your privacy rights have been violated or that we have violated our own privacy practices, you may file a complaint with us. You may also file a complaint with the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at Region IV, Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Atlanta Federal Center, Suite 3B70, 61 Forsyth Street, SW., Atlanta, GA 30303-8909. Voice Phone (404) 562-7886. FAX (404) 562-7881. TDD (404) 331-2867. Complaints filed directly with the Secretary must be made in writing, name us, describe the acts or omissions in violation of the Privacy Rules or our privacy practices, and must be filed within 180 days of the time you knew or should have known of the violation. Complaints submitted directly to us must be in writing and to the attention of our Privacy Officer. There will be no retaliation for filing a complaint.

The Effective Date of this Privacy Notice is February 2015.