County Aging Services Reports Isolated Breach of Protected Health Information

By Tamas Mondovics

Hillsborough County has reported an isolated breach of protected information within its Aging Services Department last month.

Aging Services offers numerous services designed to enhance the lives of older adults age 50 and over, from active adult programming and in-home services to hot meals and referral services.

According to a press release by County Aging Services officials, a complete and thorough internal investigation has been conducted and the department has taken steps to notify the estimated 650 then-clients affected by the breach.

Elizabeth Cardenas, Hillsborough County HIPAA Privacy Officer, said that the breach, which was discovered by Aging Services employees on December 22, 2016, is believed to have occurred in March 2011, 2016 when a former employee inadvertently came into possession of personal, protected information including social security numbers, addresses, financial information and or case notes.

Cardenas confirmed that at this time, the investigation has not revealed any facts indicating the information has been out of possession of the former employee or used inappropriately or maliciously.

“In accordance with federal law, Hillsborough County has notified the 647 affected clients via mail, and has reported the breach to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Florida Department of Elder Affairs,” Cardenas said.

In an abundance of caution, Hillsborough County is also offering affected clients free credit monitoring for a year.

“We have sent instruction by mail to our clients to utilize this service,” she said adding that clients may also contact her directly at 1-800-466-5400 or via U.S. mail at P.O. Box 1110, Tampa, FL, 33601.

In the press release, County officials emphasized that Hillsborough County employees adhere to comprehensive procedures, policies, and training regarding protected information.

An internal review of Hillsborough County policies and training confirms that current practices for handling confidential information provide the utmost protection of confidential information, the release said. For information about Hillsborough County Aging Services, please visit www.hillsboroguhcounty.org.