Justice Center Operations to Begin; DOH Advises Facilities on Compliance
Following confirmation of Jeffrey Wise as the head of the Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs (“Justice Center”), the Department of Health released a Dear Administrator Letter concerning new requirements that the Justice Center will enforce. The Department has indicated that it will communicate with covered facilities about compliance with the Justice Center’s new rules.
All custodians of people with special needs—which includes directors, operators, employees, volunteers of a facility or provider agency—must read and sign a Code of Conduct, which should have been sent to all affected institutions on June 11, 2013. Each custodian must read and sign the document by June 30, 2013, when they are hired or begin working for the facility, and once a year after that. The facility must retain copies if these signed documents on file.
The Justice Center will staff a 24-hour hot-line to receive reports about the safety of people with special needs. If the Justice Center receives a call, it will then contact the facility involved. If the administrator is not present in the facility, a responsible person must be designated to act on behalf of the operator during the administrator’s absence concerning the health, safety, comfort and well-being of residents. Although it is not clear from the law itself that this designated responsible person is the contact person for the Justice Center, it does seem clear from the DAL that covered facilities should expect that if the Justice Center calls when the administrator is not on site, they will expect a responsible person to know to field the call.
Posters concerning the hot-line were mailed to providers on June 21, 2013, and should be displayed prominently, replacing old Commission on Quality of Care and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities (CQC) Helpline posters to avoid confusion. The hot-line posters must be displayed by July 1, 2013.