TO: The DMR Community
FROM: Gerry Morrissey
DATE: May 2, 2003
RE: Update 130

Notice of Privacy Practices

DMR has taken a number of steps to comply with the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The law seeks to assure health insurance portability, reduce health care fraud and abuse, simplify the electronic administrative process, and guarantee the security and privacy of health care information. Health agencies had to be in compliance with the HIPAA privacy components of the act by April 14, 2003.

Below is a notice that describes DMR's privacy practices and legal duties related to the protection of the privacy of medical or health records that the department either creates or receives. This notice is also posted on the DMR web site, in the About DMR section.

Notice of Privacy Practices

This notice describes how protected health information about you may be used and disclosed and how you can get access to this information. Please review it carefully.


This notice is to inform you about the DMR's privacy practices and legal duties related to the protection of the privacy of your medical or health records that we create or receive. As explained below, we are required by law to ensure that medical or health information that identifies you is kept private.

If you have any questions about the content of this Notice of Privacy Practices, if you need to contact someone at the Department about any of the information contained in this Notice of Privacy Practices, or if you have a complaint about the Department's Privacy Practices, contact the DMR Privacy Officer at:

Privacy Officer
Department of Mental Retardation
500 Harrison Avenue
Boston, MA 02118
(888) 367-4435
After prompts enter 7715

I. What is Protected Health Information?

Protected Health Information (PHI) is information which DMR gathers about your past, future or present health or condition, about the provision of health care to you, or about payment for health care. Whether based upon our confidentiality policies, or applicable law, DMR has a long-standing commitment to protect your privacy and any personal health information that we hold about you. Under federal law, we are required to give you this Notice about our privacy practices that explains how, when and why we may use or disclose your PHI.

You may request a copy of the new notice from any DMR Office. It is also posted on our website at

II. How May DMR Use and Disclose Your PHI?

In order to provide services to you, DMR must use and disclose Protected Health Information in a variety of different ways. The following are examples of the types of uses and disclosures of PHI that are permitted without your authorization.

Generally, DMR may use or disclose your PHI as follows:

  • FOR TREATMENT: We may use PHI about you to provide you with treatment or services. For example, your treatment team members will internally discuss your PHI in order to develop and carry out a plan for your services. We also may disclose PHI about you to people or service providers outside DMR who may be involved in your medical care, but only the minimum necessary amount of information will be used or disclosed to carry this out.
  • TO OBTAIN PAYMENT: We may use or disclose your PHI in order to bill and collect payment for your health care services. For example, we may release portions of your PHI to the Medicaid program, Social Security Office, staff at DMR, or to a private insurer.
  • FOR HEALTH CARE OPERATIONS: We may use or disclose your PHI in the course of operating DMR's facilities, offices, developmental centers and all other DMR programs. These uses and disclosures are necessary to run our programs including ensuring that all of our consumers receive quality care. For example, we may use your PHI for quality improvement to review our treatment and services and to evaluate the performance of DMR and/or provider staff in caring for you. We may also disclose information to doctors, nurses, technicians, medical students and other personnel as listed above for review and learning purposes. It may also be necessary to obtain or exchange your information with other Massachusetts state agencies.

The law provides that we may use or disclose your PHI without consent or authorization in the following circumstances:

  • When required by law and for specific government functions: We may disclose PHI when a law requires that we report information about suspected abuse, neglect or domestic violence, or relating to suspected criminal activity, or in response to a court order. We may also disclose PHI to authorities that monitor compliance with these privacy requirements. We may disclose PHI to government benefit programs relating to eligibility and enrollment, such as Medicaid, and for national security reasons, such as protection of the President.
  • For public health activities: We may disclose PHI when we are required to collect information about disease or injury, or to report vital statistics to the public health authority.
  • For health oversight activities: We may disclose PHI within DMR or to other agencies responsible for monitoring the health care system for such purposes as reporting or investigation of unusual incidents, and monitoring of the Medicaid program.
  • Relating to decedents: We may disclose PHI related to a death to coroners, medical examiners, or funeral directors, and to organ procurement organizations relating to organ, eye, or tissue donations or transplants. Information may also be disclosed to internal or external investigations.
  • For research, audit or evaluation purposes: In certain circumstances, and under the oversight of a research review committee, we may disclose PHI to approved researchers and their designees in order to assist research.
  • To avert threat to health or safety: In order to avoid a serious threat to health or safety, we may disclose PHI as necessary to law enforcement or other persons who can reasonably prevent or lessen the threat of harm.

III. Uses and Disclosures of PHI Requiring your Authorization

For uses and disclosures other than treatment, payment and operations purposes we are required to have your written authorization, unless the use or disclosure falls within one of the exceptions described above. Authorizations can be revoked at any time to stop future uses/disclosures except to the extent that we have already undertaken an action in reliance upon your authorization.

IV. Limited Uses and Disclosures To Families, Friends and Others Provided You Do Not Object

We may disclose a limited amount of your PHI to families, friends or others involved in your care if we inform you about the disclosure in advance and you do not object, as long as the law does not otherwise prohibit the disclosure.

V. Your Rights Regarding Your Protected Health Information

You have the following rights relating to your protected health information.

To request restrictions on uses/disclosures: You have the right to ask that we limit how we use or disclose your PHI. We will consider your request, but are not legally bound to agree to the restriction

To choose how we contact you: You have the right to ask that we send you information at an alternative address or by an alternative means.

To inspect and request a copy of your PHI: Unless your access to your records is restricted for clear and documented treatment reasons, you have a right to see your protected health information upon your written request. A request should be made through the Privacy Officer. We will respond to your request within 30 days. If you want copies of your PHI, a charge for copying may be imposed, depending on your circumstances.

To request amendment of your PHI: If you believe that there is a mistake or missing information in our record of your PHI, you may request, in writing, that we correct or add to the record. We will respond within 60 days of receiving your request. Any denial will state the reason for denial and explain your rights to have the request and denial, along with any statement in response that you provide, appended to your PHI.

To find out what disclosures have been made: In certain circumstances, you have a right to get a list of when, to whom, for what purpose, and what content of your PHI has been released.

How to Obtain Information About This Notice Or Complain about our Privacy Practices

If you think we may have violated your privacy rights, or you disagree with a decision we made about access to your PHI, you may file a complaint with the Privacy Officer at DMR. You also may file a written complaint with the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at the JFK Building, Room 1875, Boston, MA 02203 or call (617) 565-1340. We will take no retaliatory action against you if you make such complaints.

Effective Date and Future Changes: This notice is effective on April 14, 2003. DMR reserves the right to change our privacy practices and the terms of this Notice at any time, and will provide you with a Notice if and when it does so.

Nineteenth Annual Human Rights Conference Planned for June 4

The 19th Annual DMR Human Rights Conference will be held on Wednesday June 4, at the Sturbridge Host Hotel in Sturbridge. The conference will focus on "Human Rights Is Everyone's Job."

The Keynote Speaker will be Gerald Provencal, Director of the Macomb Oakland Regional Center, in Mt. Clemens, Michigan. The topic of his presentation will be "Culturing Commitment by Promoting Human Rights." He will also participate in a panel session that will focus on the highlights of his address.

Throughout the day there will be a series of workshops discussing such topics as: Nuts and Bolts of the Human Rights System, When Bad Things Happen to Good People, Treating the Whole Person, HRC Roles, Safeguarding Liberty, and Changing the Landscape in Safeguarding. Experts from Human Rights Committees, DMR and provider staff, self-advocates, and human rights specialists will serve on these panels.

Conference brochures are available on line at the DMR web site: under Publications in the News, Links, and Information Section. To register or for more information, please contact Francesca Stiller, at (617) 624-7739 or TTY (617) 624-7590.

Central Region Honors Direct Care Staff

The Central Region Advisory Boards, trustees and family associations and groups, Central Mass Families Organizing for Change, Central Mass Arc's, the Autism Resource Center, Family Partnerships and Self-Advocacy Groups honored seven direct care professionals at their Legislative Breakfast at Worcester State College on Friday morning, April 25th. Commissioner Morrissey, Diane Enochs, Central Regional Director, and board member, Hank Paszko presented the awards.

The event honored both state and provider direct care staff from the Central Region. This year's honorees include: Jesus Acevedo, Institute of Professional Practice; Kennedy Asafo-Adjei, Glavin Regional Center; Walter Davenport, Rehabilitative Resources, Inc.; Audrey Faucher, G.A.A.M.H.A.; Lisa Healy, New England Center for Children; Kerry McGowen, Seven Hills Foundation; and Debra Wheeler, Regional Employment Services - Central.

Some of the award recipients shared a few thoughts about their experiences working as a direct care professional. The following is an excerpt from Ken Asafo-Adjei :

"My day consists primarily of supporting people at Glavin in areas that will maximize personal and professional growth. With each and every person at Glavin, regardless of ability, they give back to the people who support them in their own way, whether it be through mastering a skill, verbally communicating, or providing a smile or a knowing look. It continues to amaze me when I seen an individual learning something new. Each time this happens I receive the satisfaction of knowing that I may very well be part of a team that has introduced this to the person for the first time. Each time I think that maybe this will be a building block to the next skill, and the next. It is an exciting and fulfilling experience."

Greater Lynn Mental Health Honors 100 at Annual Ceremony

Greater Lynn Mental Health (GLMH) recognized and honored more than 100 individuals and groups for their work in providing supports necessary for people to direct their own lives at an Awards Night that was held in Middleton on Wednesday, April 30.

A number of awards were presented at the event including: Leadership Awards, Sen. Frederick E. Berry, (D-Peabody), and Mary Lou Sudders; Board Award, Robert F. Tucker; and TEAM Awards, the MR Residential Service Staff, Training Department at GLMH's Sovner Center. Outstanding Citizen Awards, Personal Achievement, Staff Recognition, and Partnership Awards were presented to numerous individuals and businesses on the North Shore.

DMR staff who were honored include: Susan Davidson, North Shore Area Director; Dan Lincoln, Metro North Area Director; Fred Nazzarro, Lowell Area Director; Ed Fitzgerald, Merrimack Valley Area Director; Buddy Bostick, from the Merrimack Valley Area Office; and the Hogan Regional Center Assisted Technology Department.

GLMH staff were also recognized for their years of service to GLMH. Charles Smith was honored for 25 years of service to the agency.

PALS Brunch April 27

Personal Advocacy and Lifetime Support, (PALS) held their annual brunch at the Radisson Hotel, 15 Middlesex Canal Park Road, Woburn on Sunday morning, April 27th.

Commissioner Morrissey was honored at the event and received the Fifth Annual PALS, Inc., Appreciation Award. Outstanding Network Volunteers of PALS, Inc. were also honored. They are: Pat Austin, Josh Donaldo, Evelyn Mathis, Sudhanshu Misra, and Elia Veloso.

Kennedy-Donovan Holds 16th Annual Founder's Gala

The Kennedy-Donovan Center held their 16th Annual Founder's Gala on Friday evening, April 25th in Wrentham.

This year the Founders Award, presented in honor of KDC's founder Luella Hennessey Donovan, was presented to Jeff and Debra Goulart and the Courtyard Marriott in Milford. The Goulart's were honored for their many years of advocacy and outstanding support. The Milford Marriott was honored for its work in hiring people with disabilities and for hosting an annual Dream Awards banquet where all employees participating in KDC's Transitional Job Support Program and their employees are saluted.

Commissioner Morrissey received KDC's President's Award at the ceremony

Work Inc. Honors Sen Travaglini at Annual Awards Night

On Monday evening, April 28th, Work Inc. held their Annual Awards night in Randolph.

Massachusetts Senate President Robert E. Travaglini, (D-East Boston) received the Distinguished Public Service Award. Other honorees included: Sheila Egan, Daniel Hickey Award for Residential Support; Henry Marquis, Outstanding Progress in Employment; Gail Brown and Patrick McAvennie, Denis Smith Award for Employees of the Year; the City of Quincy, Department of Planning and Community Development, the Best Friend Award; and the Granite City Electric Supply Company, the Corporate Award.

MDDC Offers Grants For Community Inclusion

The Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council is offering opportunities for state organizations to apply for grants for between $10,000 and $20,000 for new and innovative projects that support the inclusion of people with disabilities in the community.

Applicants may propose projects in any of the Federal areas of emphasis: Employment, Housing, Health, Education and Early Intervention, Child Care, Recreation, Transportation, Quality Assurance, or Formal or Informal Community Supports. Direct service proposals must include a commitment to continue the services or supports after Council funding has ended and include strategies for doing so.

Non-profit organizations, public agencies, and educational institutions in Massachusetts are eligible to apply.

To receive a copy of the 2003 Small Grants Application, please contact Harold Lieberman at (617) 727-6374, ext. 100 or TTY (617) 727-1885, or by e-mail at:

Applications must be received at the Council Office, 174 Portland St., 5th Floor, Boston, MA no later than Tuesday, May 13, 2003 at 3 p.m.

Second Annual Deaf Community Health Fair Set for May 17th

The Second Annual Deaf Community Health Fair will be held on Saturday, May 17th from 12 noon to 5 p.m. in the Shillman Building at Northeastern University in Boston.

For more information, or to pre-register,please email or call (617) 254-4041 TTY and ask to speak to Linda Mazzola. Pre-registration is required by April 25th.

The Health Fair is sponsored by Project HOPE, the Boston Public Health Commission and Co-sponsored by the Northeastern University ASL Program and the Interpreter Education Project, and the US Department of Education Rehabilitation Services Administration.

Mass AAMR Seminar and Annual Meeting Set for June 9

The Massachusetts Chapter of the American Association on Mental Retardation (AAMR) will hold a seminar and annual meeting on Monday, June 9th, at the Hassenfeld Center at Brandeis University from 1 to 4 p.m.

The guest speaker will be David Coulter, M.D., Neurology Director, LEND Program, at Children's Hospital who will provide an "Overview of the 2002 AAMR Definition and Classification System." Dr. Coulter will describe the system, explain how it builds on previous knowledge and identify significant implications for health, prevention and other supports.

The seminar is designed for clinicians, case managers, service coordinators, provider staff, people with developmental disabilities, and family members.

For more information please contact Susan Foley at the Institute for Community Inclusion, UMass Boston at (617) 287-4317.

This information is provided by the Department of Developmental Services.