Personal data goes missing from local nonprofit

Laptop computer contained personal, health information for mental health clients

By Scott Hewitt, Columbian social issues & neighborhoods reporter

Published:

 

A laptop computer that went missing from a local nonprofit agency contains personal and health-related information of as many as 2,400 current and former clients.

The computer was discovered missing from the offices of Community Services Northwest on Dec. 6, 2012, and is believed to have disappeared after Nov. 6. Community Services Northwest provides mental health and addiction treatment as well as supportive housing to low-income people. Its main office is in the Center for Community Health at 1601 E. Fourth Plain Blvd.; its satellite “Wellness Project” is nearby at 317 E. 39th Street.

Staff members believe the laptop was stolen and filed a police report, but as of yet there is “no indication that any information on the computer has been accessed or used by any unauthorized individuals,” according to a statement from Marjorie Dorsey, the agency’s HIPPA compliance officer. HIPPA is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, which governs the privacy of medical information and records.

“According to HIPPA standards, we have a 60-day window from discovery” to notify the public that private data may have been compromised, Dorsey said. That’s why the notice of the December 6 discovery just went out, she said — along with individual letters to everyone that may have been affected.

Client data from the last four years was on the laptop, Dorsey said. That could mean as many as 2,400 people, she said. The current Community Services Northwest client load is about 1,500 people, she said.

“The missing computer contained emails with personal and health-related information of some current and former CSN clients,” Dorsey’s statement says. “The types of information that may have been included in the emails include name, home address, email address, date of birth, social security number, service dates, diagnosis information, and other individually identifiable information. For most clients, the information that was on the computer did not include all of the various types of information.”

Dorsey said the agency is strengthening its privacy policies and its computer security systems. It is also also offering one year of free credit monitoring and reporting to everyone who may have been affected.

To find out if your information was on the missing computer, and to learn about the credit monitoring and reporting service, visit the agency’s website, communityservicesnw.org, e-mail privacy@communityservicesnw.org, or call Dorsey at 397-8484, ext. 7931.