Our Agency and Your Privacy



Beginning Step has been chosen by you and your funding source to provide substance abuse and related disorders treatment.  While providing your treatment we will have access to your health information.  Our agency knows that your health information is personal.  We are required to protect your privacy and provide you with this Notice as the agency that is providing you services.  In the following paragraphs, we will explain in more detail how we are obligated by law to protect your personal health information.  Please read it carefully.

Privacy Notice 

This Notice tells you about the way health information is used.  It describes your rights and our obligations regarding the use and disclosure of health information.  Over time we may revise this Notice.  If we do, we are required to inform you of our new privacy policy by making a revised Notice available to you. You can find the Notice on our website.  Copies of the Notice can be obtained in our office.  We may ask you to sign a statement (Acknowledgment) telling others we gave you this Notice. If there is an emergency, we may not be able to give this Notice until after you receive care.

General Privacy

When you contact or come to our agency, a record is usually made.  These records contain “demographic information” (such as name, address, telephone number, social security number, birth date, and health insurance information).  The records may also contain other information including how you say you feel, what health problems you have, treatments you may have received, observations by health care providers, diagnosis, and plan of care.  These kinds of record information are known as Protected Health Information, or PHI, and are used for a number of purposes that are explained in more detail in this brochure.

As a treatment provider, we perform a variety of acts.  First, we provide health services.  In addition, we may also request payment for or ask for authorization for payment from the funding sources for chemical dependency or from third-party insurance companies.  Often these payments are made under the Medicaid program.  Sometimes, we coordinate with Primary Care Physicians (PCP) and Behavioral Health providers to facilitate care for our clients.  In any of these situations, we may need to access your PHI. We do not sell your PHI and we take steps to protect your PHI from people who do not need it and have the legal right to see it.

Uses for treatment, Payment, and Operations 

We may use your PHI for treatment, payment purposes, or agency operations.  If we disclose (give out) your PHI to another person or entity, we must do so consistent with Federal and State law and regulation (e.g., 42 CFR Part 2).   In many circumstances, this requires you to sign an Authorization allowing us to provide that information to the other party.  If you do not sign an Authorization, we may not be able to provide care or make payment for your health services.  When you sign an Authorization for the use and disclosure of your PHI for treatment, payment purposes, or for agency operations, this means:


We will use and disclose your protected health information to provide, coordinate, or manage your care and related services.  This includes the coordination or management of your health care with another person like a doctor or therapist for treatment purposes.


Your protected information will be used and disclosed to obtain payment for the services provided. This may include certain communications to your health insurer to get approval for treatment.  It may also include statistical reports to agencies making funds available to us for your benefit.


We may use or disclose your protected health information for our operations in order to maintain or improve services.  This can include quality assessment, accreditation, licensing or business management, and general administrative activities.

Other uses and disclosures included within treatment, payment and operations include:


To remind you of an appointment.

Treatment Options

To inform you of potential treatment options. 

Benefits and Services

To inform you of health benefits or services that may be of interest to you. 


Training of health students such as counselors and therapists who are working in our agency.


For research purposes the study is approved by our privacy committee, the program director and also meets the requirements of Federal and State law and regulation (e.g., 42 CFR Part 2

Uses and disclosure without your authorization

When required by law, we may also disclose some protected health information.  For example, we may provide limited information:

Health risk or death

To prevent, control or report disease, injury, disability or death.

Abuse, neglect, or domestic violence reporting

To alert State or local authorities if we believe someone is a victim of child abuse or neglect or domestic violence.

Duty to warn

To alert authorities or medical personnel if we believe someone is at risk of injury by means of violence.

Health oversight

To health oversight agencies for things like audits, civil or administrative reviews, proceedings, inspections, and licensing activities.

judicial and administrative proceedings

In response to an order of a court.

Law enforcement

To a law enforcement official in response to a court order or to report a crime on the agency premises.