New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs Suspends Registration, Imposes Fine On Essex County Healthcare Service Firm that Placed Uncertified Employees with Clients, Falsified Documents
NEWARK – The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs has suspended the registration of Precious Hands, LLC, a West Orange healthcare service firm that sent uncertified employees into the homes of patients who needed the services of Certified Homemaker-Home Health Aides (CHHA), and falsified documents it provided to the state, among other violations. The Final Order of Discipline, which takes effect October 15, 2015, follows an Administrative Hearing.
"Sending uncertified employees into homes to care for patients and lying about their credentials is an abuse of the trust we put in these professionals to provide assistance to our loved ones," said Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman. "These sanctions send a clear message that the Division is committed to uncovering and disciplining those individuals and companies who abdicate their duties to those who need them most."
"It is especially troubling that Precious Hands admitted that it did not employ a registered nurse or physician to supervise the employees, while representing to the Division that it did," said Division of Consumer Affairs Acting Director Steve Lee. "Not only did Precious Hands' actions violate rules designed to protect New Jersey consumers, these actions jeopardized the health and welfare of the very people the firm was hired to care for." Under the Final Order of Discipline, Precious Hands has until October 20 to transfer its clients to other registered health care service firms.
New Jersey law defines a "healthcare service firm" as an employment agency that places personnel to provide healthcare or personal care services in the homes of clients with disabilities or who are senior citizens. Precious Hands has been registered with the Division as such a firm since November 2008. A recent inspection by the Division's Office of Consumer Protection uncovered numerous deficiencies in violation of the regulations that govern healthcare service firms.
The deficiencies include:
Falsification of Documents: Each healthcare service firm must employ a Director of Nursing, who is a registered nurse in good standing with the State Board of Nursing.
Since 2008, Precious Hands has filed registration documents with the Division that listed three individuals, all of whom are registered nurses, as having been its Director of Nursing at various times.
However, each of the individuals has since provided separate, sworn statements to the Division indicating that they were never employed by Precious Hands and did not know that the business was using their name and license information.
Client Care Issues: Before placing a care provider into the home of a client who requires care from a licensed or registered nurse or a CHHA, the healthcare service firm must:
- Verify that the employee is properly licensed or certified as a nurse or CHHA by the State Board of Nursing, keep a copy of the employee's Board of Nursing license or certification record, verify the employee's work history, and maintain certain other employee records.
- Create a plan of care for each client, and conduct 30-day client healthcare reviews, as well as 60-day on-site, in-home evaluations.
- Only send clients who are certified by the Board of Nursing as CHHAs, into the homes of clients who require the services of a CHHA.
Precious Hands failed to meet the above requirements. Specifically:
- The company provided the Division with records of 19 employees and 15 clients. For all 19 employees, the company failed to verify whether they were licensed or certified by the Board of Nursing, failed to verify their employment history, and failed to maintain other required employee records.
- For 14 of the 15 clients, Precious Hands failed to create a plan of care. For all 15 clients, it also failed to conduct 30-day healthcare reviews and failed to conduct 60-day in-home evaluations.
- Company records also indicate that Precious Hands placed 23 uncertified employees with seven clients who required the services of a certified CHHA.
Following the six-month suspension, the Division's Office of Consumer Protection will verify that Precious Hands has corrected the violations, including the legitimate hiring of a Director of Nursing and other changes to its business practices.
Investigator Ron Regen, assigned to the Office of Consumer Protection within the Division of Consumer Affairs, conducted this investigation.
Deputy Attorney General Alina Wells, of the Division of Law, represented the State in this matter.
Advice for Consumers Seeking a Healthcare Service Firm for At-Home Care:
Consumers seeking assistance from a healthcare service firm for at-home client care should make contact with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs to ensure that the healthcare service firm is registered with the State, and whether it has been the subject of consumer complaints. They should also ask the Division to verify whether individual nurses or CHHAs provided by the agency are licensed or certified by the State Board of Nursing.
Consumers can find additional information in these documents, available free of charge at the Division's website:
Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse, can file an
online complaint with the State Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its
website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504- 6200.
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