Morss’ & AFAN’s HIPAA SNAFU and Board President Saavedra condones it! Last month the Night Beat reported an apparent violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) by Aid For AIDS of Nevada (AFAN). AFAN Executive Director Jennifer Morss defended sending client records to the Clark County Commissioners and posting them on the web, saying she had the right to share these records with the Commissioners and to post them on the Internet because the clients had publicly stated they were HIV positive and clients of AFAN while making their claims. Morss claimed this was not in violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), as she feels they had selfidentiﬁed as being HIV positive and AFAN clients while making their complaints to the Commission, and she was defending the agency in the same venues as the complaints had been voiced. At a recent “Open Meeting with AFAN’s Board”, Board President Patricia
Saavedra agreed with Morss’ assertion that they had every right to put out client information in this instance. A complaint was ﬁled with the Clark County Department of Social Service by Jeffrey Hames – one of those people whose records were disclosed. Their response, provided by Hames indicates the Department of Social Service is investigating the issues and has directed Morss to remove the documents from Facebook. The Department is “conducting a thorough review and working with AFAN to ensure that this type of incident is not repeated,” wrote
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Timothy Burch, Interim Director. When an agency’s executive director sends client ﬁles to unauthorized third parties then displays client records on the Internet for the world to view, and the board president condones this inappropriate action, clients have every right to feel intimidated. Any public complaints by clients about the agency could be cause for ﬁles to be made public. Files which clients have every right to expect to be conﬁdential. AFAN needs a new Board of Trustees and needs to sever all ties to Morss effective immediately.
Mission accomplished? Not quite so fast … warranted. HIV/AIDS That said, it’s time to offer some service constructive suggestions for change. providers. • First and foremost, AFAN needs to And these other With little fanfare, AFAN’s executive start treating their clients with respect and providers would prefer Director is reported to have resigned. dignity. This has not been the case for not to have to deal with Their “Truth and Unity” page has quite some time. Don’t allow anyone to AFAN. Be cooperative. Play mysteriously disappeared from Facebook play favorites, giving special services to nice. Rebuild bridges and neither their Facebook page nor preferred clients. • Require all staff to get their website has any mention of the • Start vigorously protecting clients’ Board of Trustees’ approval before resignation. privacy. Immediately terminate any initiating any legal action against a My understanding is Jennifer Morss employee who uses AFAN’s assets (like client (including Restraining Orders of a resigned effective early October, but video images) to expose the status of personal or professional nature). she’ll still be on staff through the end of your clients. Remove video surveillance • Remove State Senator David the year. equipment from any non-public areas of Parks’ name from your web site list of If these reports are true, it was a your ofﬁces to prevent future exposure Trustees. He hasn’t been a member of the wise move for Morss to resign. She’ll of your clients. Prohibit any disclosure Board of Trustees in over a year. Falsely be saving AFAN much embarrassment, by any staff member of client HIV/AIDS touting a person of his stature, reputation considering the status or client and inﬂuence as a Trustee is inherently damage done in medical records dishonest and reﬂects poorly on your On May 1, 2003 President the past. under any ethics. Show the community you will no George W. Bush told the world Ultimately, circumstances. longer accept lies as facts. (via a banner on the USS I don’t believe • Get rid • Use your limited resources for her considerable Abraham Lincoln) that the of the Zero client services, rather than investigations, inﬂuence over Tolerance Policy intimidation and other frivolous United States’ mission in Iraq AFAN and (or Code of “administrative” expenses. Your Board was accomplished. We all know the Board of Conduct Policy). members decried the allegation that the how that turned out. Trustees will Oppression has past controversy was taking away from be in any way never worked donations and hurting clients. Start using diminished by her resignation. The Board toward making clients feel welcome and your funds wisely and let the public know should have accepted her resignation respected. The revised policy is still so their donations are not being squandered. effective immediately, severed all ties poorly written as to be unenforceable, • Establish published cash handling with Morss and swept this deplorable but requiring clients to sign the policy is procedures. Written procedures have chapter out with the trash. always an intimidation technique which been requested, but since that request was On May 1, 2003 President George W. needs to be halted. An apology from evaded, we assume you’re counting with Bush told the world (via a banner on the AFAN to those clients who signed it in a wing and a prayer, hoping your money USS Abraham Lincoln) that the United the past would certainly be a gesture of handlers are not in collusion. The public States’ mission in Iraq was accomplished. good faith, indicating AFAN’s anticipated deserves to know it’s not “one for AFAN, We all know how that turned out. new era of client respect. one for me”. Be transparent. I would like to say “Mission • Work toward • Open all your accomplished!” in regards to AFAN’s a quick settlement Board meetings The Board should have Executive Director, Jennifer Morss, but with Lane Olson. to the public. accepted her resignation that would put me in the same shortPersecution of a Transparency sighted category as “W”. effective immediately, former staff member again will be the AFAN’s Board of Trustees needs detracts from the key to cleaning up severed all ties with Morss to work diligently to restore the caring image which your reputation. and swept this deplorable organization’s reputation if they hope to a community service The public needs chapter out with the trash. regain community support. organization should to know there are So, if our mission of change for hope to project. no secret deals. AFAN seems to be accomplished, we AFAN’s reputation is not ﬂattering, and Vote in public meetings. Operating know better. While the Night Beat won’t given AFAN’s treatment of Olson, vis-àdecisions need the light of day to rebuild pursue further stories of the deplorable vis his COBRA beneﬁts and other actions conﬁdence in your organization. Why is conditions at AFAN in the near future, by AFAN, you need to clean up this everything so secret? we will give their Board of Trustees some public relations nightmare. • Keep your word. When you say time to implement needed ﬁxes to the • Mend fences with other HIV/AIDS you’ll post a video of a meeting, don’t organization. We will keep our ear to the organizations in town. AFAN has a pull it down when the meeting doesn’t go ground and hope further exposés are not reputation for not working with other Continued on next page
Opinion By Bill Schafer Night Beat Publisher
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AFAN’s reputation needs help Here are some suggestions your way. That eats at your credibility. As the state’s largest HIV/AIDS organization, the Board should be ashamed that their Executive Director was removed from the list of candidates for the Ryan White Planning Council. They should be ashamed that the Clark County Commissioners needed to rescind their vote after community activists brought
accusations of mismanagement to their —•— attention. They should be ashamed that Reader Ed Uehling writes: the organization’s reputation has fallen “I believe questions should continue to such a level of to be asked. I public mistrust of their think they have put They have not answered handling of funds, their themselves into such a single one of these respect for clients, and a hole that they want questions in a straighttheir ability to work everyone to be quiet with others in the HIV/ – that trying to make forward way AIDS community. people forget is their I would like to say only hope of saving “Mission accomplished”, however if the themselves. mission is to be sure AFAN is worthy of ”This raises (for me, at least) issue community support, the Night Beat needs number one: Is it better to tell everyone to be vigilant in its oversight. to shut up (as Frank did with the Lambda controversy and Shawn whatshisname did on the internet), so that the level of acrimony calms down? Or is it better that members of the community refuse to be shut up before all the questions have been answered in order to create a facade of peace? There is no question in my mind that the second approach is the correct one and it concerns me that Shawn’s words have been enough to shut people down. “I think there are questions that still must be answered, especially since the Board has made it very clear that they see nothing wrong with anything that Morss has done – even her grossest offenses. The crucial questions are: When are they going to put the organization back in compliance with the requirements of their grants and hire a nutritionist? What has been done to assure the community that no further releases of conﬁdential information are going to occur? Is that sufﬁcient? “When are they going to post the tape that was promised? “Why is Morss still there and what inﬂuence does she wield? If she has no inﬂuence, then who is responsible and who answers questions? “How much has AFAN paid for legal expenses, accounting, public relations (by person or business), and human resources (by person or business) during the past two years? … Are they continuing to refuse to refer clients to other organizations in town? “They have not answered a single one of these questions in a straight -forward way that a lay person can understand. Now their supporters want everyone to quit asking these and any other questions. That is just crazy to me and we should not go along with it.
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Congrats to Snick’s Place Congrats to Snick’s Place With Snick’s Place celebrating 35 years in our community, I consulted with historian Dennis McBride to get a few facts about the bar. • On September 23, 1976: Ralph Vandersnick opened Snick=s Place at 1402 S. Fourth Street. • Ralph Vandersnick was the only Las Vegas bar owner to be on the spot with a donation [$500] for Nevada=s sodomy law repeal effort. (This is the fact I recalled when I wrote about the start of AFAN. I knew Ralph was always a generous supporter of the community, I just placed his generosity in the wrong organization. • On December 6, 2000: Ralph Vandersnick, beloved owner of Snick=s Place and generous supporter of the Las Vegas gay community, dies. Ralph left the bar to bar manager Dominick Vitale who continues to make improvements and donate to the community. Each year the bar celebrates Ralph’s birthday and many customers fondly recall stories about the founder. —•— Speaking of anniversaries, the party they threw at Hawks Gym for their ninth anniversary was spectacular. Plenty of food and prizes. There was a couple of large ﬂat screen TVs, a computer, lots of
lube, and many other prizes. The Sin Sity Sisters beneﬁted from the sale of rafﬂe tickets. —•— Saddle West Casino is very happy with the gay community’s turn out for Pahrump Pride (in spite of a little grumbling among the locals). They say the ballroom hasn’t been that busy in ten years! Is it any surprise organizer DJ Danny G has scheduled Pahrump Pride for next year already? It will be Aug 3 – 5. Management at Saddle West couldn’t be happier. —•— The rumor mill says Jennifer Morse has “resigned” as Executive Director at AFAN. In typical AFAN style there has been no announcement. They seem to think if you don’t mention the dirty laundry it will go away. I’m sure when AFAN ﬁnally announces, it will be for “personal reasons”, not a ﬁring. Since the rumor mill says the “resignation” won’t take effect until sometime in October, and she won’t really leave until the end of the year, we have to assume the Board of Trustees (not including Sen. David Parks, whose name is on their website as a member of the Board but hasn’t been a Board member for over a year) is still backing her, but
can’t stand the heat. What a bunch of wimps. Since their Board meetings are mostly secret meetings without any public oversight, the public will probably never know the truth. (No transparency in this organization!) —•— The International Fetish Ball bbeing held at the Alexis Park Oct. 28 through 30 sounds like it could be a lot of fun. Organizer Franz Pass (owner of the Black room German Fetish Shop is bound and determined to put the sin bback in Sin City. All the details are on ppage 8. Continued on next page
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