Client Resources

Client Resources

If you need help, please visit our get help page.

A man in nurse scrubs helps a woman in a blue top plant flowers in pots in a dining room

Welcome

Welcome to the client resources page. Here you can find the UCS client handbook, valuable community resources, COVID-19 information, information regarding Genoa Healthcare, and other resources available to UCS clients. Should you have any questions regarding these resources, please call UCS: (802) 442-5491.

Client Handbook

Anyone can call United Counseling Service.

We provide support, answer questions and connect you to the right resources at UCS or in the community. We are here for you 24/7/365.

UCS has been designated a Center of Excellence by Vermont Care Partners and offers:

  • Community-based mental health and substance use treatment
  • 24/7 mobile crisis intervention and stabilization
  • Same day access for clinical intakes
  • Employee assistance program
  • Employment programs for clients
  • Outpatient mental health and comprehensive service systems for adults, children, families and seniors with mental illness, intellectual disabilities, and emotional and behavioral disabilities
  • Community Rehabilitation and Treatment
  • Bennington County Head Start / Early Head Start
  • Mentoring at UCS
  • Onsite pharmacy
  • Psychiatric services
  • Adult family care
  • Peer support groups (NAMI and Vermont Psychiatric Survivors

The standard hours of operation for United Counseling Service are 8 am to 7 pm Monday–Thursday and 8 am to 5 pm on Friday. Our Northshire location is open 8 am to 5 pm Monday–Friday. Some services, including residential support and crisis services, are provided 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Anyone can call United Counseling Service’s main number (802) 442-5491 to get help. During regular business hours you will speak with Universal Access, our single point of contact for triage and linkage to appropriate services. Universal Access operates during general business hours.

If you are in crisis and need immediate assistance, call: (802) 442-5491 in Bennington or (802) 362-3950 in Manchester.

UCS provides mental health services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. When our offices are closed, the UCS Emergency operator will take your name and phone number and a UCS representative will return your call as quickly as possible. UCS Emergency Service provides individuals in crisis with immediate assistance, offers post- crisis supportive services, and helps arrange additional services as needed.

FOR A YOUTH-RELATED CRISIS

The Family Emergency Services (FES) program provides mobile outreach services to families experiencing a youth-related crisis. The hours of operation for FES services are 8 am to 8 pm Monday– Friday. If you need emergency assistance, call (802)442-1700. After hours, your call will be answered by UCS Emergency

Service Staff by calling (802) 442-5491.

FOR A DEVELOPMENTAL SERVICES CRISIS

If services are needed immediately, contact DS at (802) 445-7318, 8am to 4pm Monday–Friday. After hours your call will be answered by UCS Emergency Service Staff by calling (802) 442-5491.

Mental Health Programs

  • Child, adult, family, and couple’s outpatient counseling
  • Variety of psychotherapy groups
  • Mental health and intellectual disabilities evaluation
  • Community education and consultation services
  • Employee Assistance Program
  • Substance Use Programs
  • Alcohol and drug use counseling, education and prevention
  • Substance use treatment referrals
  • Public Inebriate Program
  • Assessment for and facilitation of detox or residential services
  • Consultation to agencies and schools
  • Rocking Horse (providing parenting support for women with substance use problems)
  • Intensive Outpatient Program
    Community Rehabilitation and Treatment for Adults with Severe and Persistent Mental Illness
  • Transitional residential program
  • Community support services
  • Supported employment program
  • Vocational Rehabilitation
  • Housing advocacy services
  • Individual counseling
  • Group counseling
  • Peer support groups
    Emergency Services
  • 24-hour emergency service
  • Battelle House Crisis Stabilization Center
    Psychiatric Services
  • Psychiatric evaluation
  • Medication management
  • Walk-in clinic
  • Consultation to primary care physicians
  • Psychiatric services at Southern Vermont Medical Center
  • Consultation to other clinicians
  • TeleHealth
  • Psychopharmacology genetic testing

Programs for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities

  • Residential services
  • Community support services
  • Family support services
  • Employment services and ongoing job support
  • Crisis services
  • Shared living
  • Bridge Case Management
  • Family Managed Respite
  • Flexible Family Funding
  • Personal care assessments
  • Supported Independent Living
  • Case management
  • Choices for Care Program (Adult Family Care)

Youth and Family Services

  • Psychiatric Urgent Care for Kids (PUCK)
  • Family Emergency Services (FES) and crisis intervention
  • Runaway and homeless youth services
  • Early childhood mental health services and consultation
  • Individual, group and family counseling
  • Therapeutic case management services
  • Camp Be A Kid
  • After-School Program
  • Teens for Change
  • Community skills and support
  • School-based clinical services
  • Employment services
  • Transitional Living Programs
  • Mentoring at UCS

Early Childhood Services

  • Bennington County Early Head Start
  • Bennington County Head Start
  • Bennington County Early Education Initiative (EEI)

United Counseling Service (UCS) complies with applicable Federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex. UCS does not exclude people or treat them differently because of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.

UCS Provides:

Free communication aids and services to people with disabilities to communicate effectively with us, such as: qualified sign language interpreters and written information in other formats (large print, audio, accessible electronic formats, etc.).

Free language services to people whose primary language is not English, such as: qualified interpreters, and information written in other languages.

If you need these services, contact UCS at (802) 442-5491

If you believe that UCS has failed to provide these services or discriminated in another way on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex, you can file a grievance with UCS by mail or by phone at: UCS, Grievance Coordinator, 100 Ledge Hill Drive, PO Box 588, Bennington, VT 05201.

You may also file a civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights online at https://ocrportal.hhs.gov, or by mail at U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 200 Independence Avenue SW, Room 509F, HHH Building, Washington, DC 20201, or by phone at 1 (800) 368-1019, (800) 537-7697 (TDD).

The following information is designed to help you receive the services you need as quickly and effectively as possible.

Fees

In some cases, fee waivers may be available in individual circumstances. Many insurance plans provide coverage for behavioral health services. If you are a Bennington County resident and are unable to pay the full fee, you can apply for reduced-fee assistance.

Our staff will review your health insurance information and, if needed, help you arrange fee assistance. Please bring your Medicaid or other insurance card with you.

Clients who are not eligible for traditional Medicaid and do not have other insurance will be provided Health Exchange information. We encourage you to apply before your first visit to assure coverage prior to treatment.

A Team Approach

Your first contact with UCS may be by phone or, during office hours, by coming directly to one of our offices. You will be connected to a Universal Access Coordinator who will ask you a few questions and inform you of our Same Day Access hours of availability.

We offer Same Day Access for Clinical Intake availability Monday through Friday to ensure individuals receive the right care, at the right time, in the right place, with the right provider. Your first appointment will last approximately 90 minutes and will include your orientation to the Agency and a comprehensive assessment. Before you leave your initial appointment, the Intake Clinician will align you with the appropriate treatment provider and you will be scheduled for your next appointment.

Much of the work done at UCS is done through a team approach. Depending on where you receive your service at UCS, you may have several staff members involved in your care.

How can I measure my progress?

Progress toward your goals that you and your treatment team identified will be evaluated throughout the course of your care. You are encouraged to give and request feedback about your

progress with your team.

What if I have a problem with my treatment?

If you are having a problem with your care, first talk with your treatment provider(s). If that does not resolve the problem, you can ask to speak with your provider’s supervisor. If those channels are ineffective, please see the section on the UCS grievance policy.

Cancellation and No-Show Protocol

Your engagement in services is helpful to your success. Because of the high demand for our services, we require at least twenty-four (24) hours’ notice to cancel an appointment. If you fail to notify UCS, you may be billed for the appointment. Your treatment provider will advise you of our scheduling practices and No-Show protocol.

Our No-Show Policy states that if you miss two sessions, we may no longer hold your appointment for you.

Transition Planning and Discharge from Care

At the beginning of your care, your treatment team will work with you on a transition plan that ensures coordination of supports during and after services at the agency. This includes your accomplishments and progress toward well-being, and identifies support systems to assist you in your continued care and supports.

The transition planning process is person-centered and is individualized to meet your needs while you are actively receiving treatment and beyond. This plan will help you and your team determine when services are no longer needed and a discharge plan can be created.

UCS strives to provide a safe and comfortable environment for all of its clients and employees.

  • Smoking and tobacco use are prohibited in and around all agency facilities and grounds.

  • No weapons of any kind, including but not limited to firearms, explosives, knives and projectiles, are allowed on UCS premises.

  • UCS is a drug- and alcohol-free workplace.

  • UCS reserves the right to restrict access to care due to violation of any of the above safety standards. Rights and privileges may be regained through a negotiated process with your primary service provider or his/her supervisor.

  • A person mandated to treatment by the Department of Corrections may not revoke a consent given by them until there has been a formal and effective termination or revocation of such release. This release allows for unrestricted communications.

Standard Response Protocol

The agency has adopted a Standard Response Protocol to be implemented in case of emergency situations. The following protocols are to be followed, as applicable:

LOCKOUT – A threat or hazard is outside of the building. Secure the perimeter.

LOCKDOWN – There is a threat inside of the building. Lock, lights, out of sight.

EVACUATE A LOCATION – Evacuate to a designated location. Occupants and staff move from one location to another.

SHELTER – Used when the need for personal protection is necessary.

Staff will guide you in the unlikely event that the Standard Response Protocol is activated.

It is important for you to know you have many rights and responsibilities when you enter into counseling. The following list outlines them.

You Have a Right…

  • To considerate and respectful care which includes freedom from any physical, sexual, fiduciary (financial), or psychological abuse including humiliating, threatening, and exploiting actions;
  • To understand what your problem is, what treatment is recommended and why, who will give the treatment, and what outcome to expect;
  • To be involved in a process of informed choice, informed refusal, and/or expression of choice related to preference of your treatment services, choice of service provider and participation in research projects;
  • To expect that all communications and records pertaining to your care will be treated as confidential;
  • To have continuity of care when you are referred for services outside this agency;
  • To examine and receive an explanation of your bill.
  • To participate in all aspects of your treatment, including development of your treatment plan.
  • To have access to self-help and advocacy support services.
  • To voice complaints or lodge an appeal without recrimination.
  • To all legal protection and due process for status as an outpatient and inpatient, both voluntary and involuntary, as defined under Vermont law.

Your Responsibilities Are…

  • To be honest in your presentation of your problems and to tell those working with you how you feel about what is happening to you.
  • To be actively involved in the development of your treatment plan that will outline your problems, needs, goals, and expected outcome;
  • To be considerate of others and their privacy;
  • To present to your counselor any questions, complaints or concerns about your counseling plans or goals so that you may reach an agreement on any problem hindering your progress.

Federal and state laws protect your confidential information. Protecting your confidentiality is important to us. All UCS employees understand the importance of confidentiality, are trained to preserve it, and are subject to disciplinary action if they violate your confidentiality. Below are exceptions specific to HIPAA and 42CFR Part 2:

  • When there is a genuine medical emergency, or when there is imminent danger to a second person or others;

  • When a person has a serious medical condition and is incapable of rational communication, the family or others may be notified;

  • When we are authorized by the client and/or compelled to do so by the court;

  • Vermont law mandates that a mental health professional, who has reasonable cause to believe that any child has been abused or neglected, must report such abuse or neglect to the Department of Children and Families.

  • Additionally, any suspicion of abuse, neglect, or exploitation of the elderly (age 60 or older), or a disabled adult with a diagnosed physical or mental impairment, must be reported;

  • By Vermont law, if a clinical staff member has reason to believe that you will commit a serious crime against either property or another person, that staff is required to take reasonable steps to warn the intended victim;

  • If you are so impaired by alcohol or other drugs as to pose a threat to society in general (e.g. driving a car), the law is interpreted as requiring staff to take steps to protect the public by rendering you harmless (e.g. taking your keys) and/or informing proper authorities.

  • Your records are securely safeguarded. UCS follows HIPAA and federally funded substance use treatment program (42CFR Part 2) guidelines.

  • If it becomes necessary for UCS to release information without your permission, we will limit the information released to the minimum amount necessary under the circumstances.

For more information regarding the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and 42CFR Part 2, please see the Notice of Privacy Practices.

Anyone receiving or participating in services and/or programs will be oriented in, and receive a copy of, the Agency’s Grievance & Appeal policy and procedure upon enrollment in a program.

A grievance may be expressed orally or in writing. A client or designated representative (i.e., a person receiving services, their family member, or other person acting on their behalf) may file a grievance at any time. Staff members will assist a client if the client or their representative requests such assistance, which includes but is not limited to, auxiliary aids and services upon request, such as providing interpreter services and toll- free numbers that have TTY/TDD and interpreter capability. Clients or their representatives do not have to request a written response from the agency for their concern to be addressed as a formal grievance.

Clients may grieve a matter that is not an adverse benefit determination, including denial of a request for an expedited appeal, an extension of time by UCS for decision of a service authorization or resolving an internal appeal, quality of care or services provided, aspects of interpersonal relationships such as rudeness of a provider or employee, and the failure to respect a client’s rights.

UCS will not require that grievances be put in writing before considering them formal grievances. The agency will make forms available for this purpose, but the client or their representative is not required to complete the form. Agency staff members will assist a client if they or their representative requests assistance in filing a grievance. UCS will train staff in the practices and procedures to promote prompt informal and formal resolution of disagreements.

A person receiving services, their family member, or other person acting on their behalf, having a grievance or appeal shall be offered a Grievance and Appeal Form to complete and/or an opportunity to explain the grievance or appeal to the person’s primary UCS therapist, case manager or service provider, who will assist with, or complete, the Grievance and Appeal Form. The primary therapist/case manager/service provider shall report the grievance or appeal to the UCS Grievance and Appeals Coordinator, either directly or through the related Division Director, using the Grievance and Appeal Form. The original form will be forwarded to the Grievance and Appeal Coordinator. The Division Director will work with the Grievance and Appeal Coordinator to review/investigate all grievances and appeals from the initial filing through resolution.

UCS shall provide the client, free of charge, all the information in its possession or control relevant to the grievance process and the subjects of the grievance, including the client’s case record, medical records, and other records and documents related to the grievance, and other information relevant to the client’s grievance including relevant policies and procedures.

Grievance Procedure

If you believe you have been denied access to a benefit, service, program, or activity offered by UCS because of a disability, you may file a complaint with:

Grievance and Appeals Coordinator United Counseling Service
100 Ledge Hill Drive
P.O. Box 588 Bennington, VT 05201

Filing of Appeals: Clients may file appeals orally or in writing for any adverse benefit determination. There is no right to appeal matters where a federal or state law requiring change has adversely affected some or all clients. Providers and representatives of the client may initiate appeals only after a clear determination that the third party’s involvement is being initiated at the client’s request except that providers may not request the services be continued pending appeal. Appeals of adverse benefit determination must be filed with UCS within sixty (60) days of the date the agency’s notice of adverse benefit determination. The parties to an internal appeal are the beneficiary or their representative, or the legal representative of a deceased beneficiary’s estate. UCS will give clients reasonable assistance in completing forms or other steps to initiate and participate in the internal appeals process. Assistance auxiliary aids and services upon request as also noted above. Clients may also contact the Office of Health Care Advocate at 1-800-917-7787 for help with this process or decision-making about the process.

Written acknowledgement of the appeal shall be mailed within five (5) days of receipt of appeal by the agency.

Withdrawal of Appeals may be done orally or in writing at any time by clients or their representatives.

Client Participation in Appeals: The client, their authorized representative, or their provider, if requested by the provider, has the right to participate in person, by phone, or in writing in the meeting in which UCS is considering the issue that is the subject of the appeal. This may include the right to present evidence, testimony and legal arguments. Upon request and prior to the appeal meeting, the agency shall provide timely copies of information relevant to the appeals process and the subject of the appeal, at no cost to the client. UCS shall inform the client of the scheduled appeal meeting and reschedule to accommodate individuals wishing to participate. If a meeting cannot be scheduled within the timeframe for resolving the appeal, the agency may make a decision that resolves the appeal without a meeting with the client or their representatives.

Appeals Reviewer: The UCS staff member responsible for hearing the appeal shall not have been involved in any previous level of review or decision-making, not be a subordinate of any such individual, and shall have appropriate clinical expertise of member conditions or illness when deciding an appeal of a denial of medical necessity.

Resolution: UCS shall act promptly and in good faith to obtain necessary information to resolve the appeal. The internal review shall be completed, appeals shall be decided, and written notice sent to the member within thirty (30) days of receipt of the appeal. The individual/representative or UCS may request an extension of up to 14 days if that extra time is in the best interests of the individual. The maximum total time period for the resolution of an appeals, including any extension requested either by the member or the Medicaid Program, is 44 days. If a meeting cannot be scheduled within these timeframes, a decision will be rendered by the Medicaid Program without a meeting with the member, the designated representative, or treating provider.

Expedited Internal Appeals Request: Expedited appeals may be requested in emergent situations in which the member or the treating provider (in making the request on the member’s behalf or supporting the member’s request) indicate s that taking the time for a standard resolution could seriously jeopardize the member’s life or health or ability to attain, maintain, or regain maximum function. Requests for expedited internal appeals may be made orally or in writing with the Medicaid Program for any adverse benefit determination subject to appeal. No punitive action may be made against a provider who requests or supports an expedited resolution.

If the request for an expedited appeal is denied because it does not meet the criteria, the Medicaid Program will inform the member that the request does not meet the criteria for expedited resolution and that the appeal will be processed within the standard 30-day time frame. An oral notice of the denial of the request for an expedited appeal must be promptly communicated (within 2 days) to the member and followed up within 2 days of the oral notification with a written notice.

If the expedited appeal request meets the criteria for such appeals, it must be resolved within 72 hours. If an expedited appeal cannot be resolved within 72 hours, the time frame may be extended up to an additional 14 days by request of the mem ber, or by the Medicaid Program if the extension is in the best interest of the member. If the extension is at the request of the Medicaid Program, it must give the member written notice of the reason for the delay. An oral notice of the expedited appeal decision must be promptly communicated (within 2 days) to the member and followed up within 2 days of the oral notification with a written notice. The written notice for any expedited appeal determination shall include a brief summary of the appeal, the resolution, the basis for the resolution, and the member’s right to request a fair hearing if not already requested.

Finally, clients shall be advised of their right to represen- tation or the assistance of an advocate at any stage of the grievance and appeal procedure. They will also be assured of the confidentiality of the proceedings and that no retribution of any kind will result from filing a grievance or an appeal.

Fair Hearing: This is a process whereby the individual or their representative making an appeal and UCS, working with DMH and the DMH Legal Unit, each presents their side of the situation to the Human Services Board. A request for fair hearing by the Human Services Board (HSB) must be filed no later than 30 days after receipt of the adverse appeal decision or within 90 days of the original action.

Complaint Procedures of Other State or Federal Programs:

Additional processes shall be followed as outlined by state or federal bodies not specified in this policy but whose regulations require a specific complaint procedure. When applicable to a UCS program, such details will be included in the division Operations Manual; an example being the Civil Rights Requirements in Child Nutrition Programs as governed by the Vermont Agency of Education and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Client Satisfaction

UCS seeks input from clients regarding their progress and satisfaction with services. You may be asked to fill out a satisfaction survey at an office visit or when you have completed treatment. You are also encouraged to talk, first and foremost, with your primary service provider regarding any ideas you may have that would be helpful to you or would improve the overall performance of UCS.

Ethical and Professional Behavior

UCS respects the dignity of each individual served and will assist in promoting the full development of each individual’s potential. All employees are required to conduct themselves in an ethical and professional manner and adhere to a comprehensive code of ethics. You may receive a copy of the Standard of Ethical and Professional Behavior upon request.

Notices of full state procedures can be found in the Grievance and Appeal Manuals published by: The Vermont Department of Mental Health (DMH) for mental health programs; Department of Disabilities, Aging, and Independent Living (DAIL) for developmental services, and Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs (ADAP) for substance abuse programs. The UCS Grievance and Appeals Coordinator will provide copies of state procedures upon request.

A woman wearing mask holding a half full tray of cup cakes

How can I measure my progress?

Progress toward your goals that you and your treatment team identified will be evaluated throughout the course of your care. You are encouraged to give and request feedback about your progress with your team.

Community Resources

Hours of Operation

Some services, including residential support and crisis services, are provided 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

United Counseling Service

Monday–Thursday: 8 am to 7 pm
Friday: 8 am to 5 pm


Northshire

Monday–Friday: 8 am to 5 pm

COVID-19

United Counseling Service is taking the health of our clients, staff and families extremely seriously. To ensure the continued safety of our staff, clients and families, we are closely monitoring and following the Vermont Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control recommendations.  

UCS is working diligently to monitor the status of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) and to stay aprised of and implement the current recommendations to ensure the health and well being of our clients, staff, providers and community. 

We are closely following the updates and recommendations issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)The Vermont Department of Health, and Southern Vermont Medical Center.

UCS’ procedures and protocols affected by COVID-19 are changing rapidly, and we will do our best to communicate those to you in an effective, efficient manner. 

We ask that if you are coughing and have a fever please consider a phone appointment with your provider.  We are here for you 24/7/365 and are dedicated to providing high-quality services to those that need us.  For help, call 802-442.5491. 

What you need to know about COVID-19 (PDF) 

Know Your Rights to Medical Care COVID-19

https://dredf.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/DREDF-Know-Your-Rights-COVID-19-03-27-2020-English-Spanish.pdf

Know Your Rights Guide to Surviving COVID-19 Triage Protocols

http://nobodyisdisposable.org/know-your-rights/

GUARDIAN’S HANDBOOK – A Guide to the Responsibilities of Guardians of Adults with Mental Disabilities

https://ddsd.vermont.gov/sites/ddsd/files/documents/OPG%20handbook%20April%202016.pdf

Making Medical Decisions for Someone Else

https://vtethicsnetwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Making-Medical-Decisions-2018.pdf

Medical Decision-Making for Persons Under Guardianship (from the Vermont Ethics Network)

  • A person whose right to make medical decisions has been restricted due to a guardianship who has the capacity to make a specific medical decision retains the right to make that decision [3075(b)].
  • A health care agent appointed in an advance directive has exclusive authority to make medical decisions over a guardian [see 3069(b)§3075(c)§3075(d)].
  • Guardians appointed by the Probate Court must seek prior approval from the court in the following circumstances [3075(g)]:
    • When the person under guardianship objects to the decision;
    • When the court had previously ordered the decision would not be made without a hearing;
    • Before withholding/withdrawing life sustaining treatment other than antibiotics (unless under an advance directive), except in an emergency (when the decision needs to be made before a court decision could be made); or
    • Before consenting to a DNR (do-not-resuscitate) order (unless under an advance directive), except in an emergency (when the clinician certifies in writing that the patient is likely to experience a cardiopulmonary arrest before the court’s order can be obtained).
  • A guardian must honor instructions in an individual’s advance directive even if there is no health care agent and the guardian is making the decision.
  • When making medical decisions for a person under guardianship, the guardian must first try to determine what the person would decide if they were able (substituted judgement). If this is not known, the guardian would then make a decision based on what is in the individual’s best interest.

Best Practices and Legal Requirements for Health Professionals Caring for People with Disabilities

https://www.ucucedd.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Center-for-Dignity-in-Health-Care-fact-sheet-on-rights-for-people-with-disabilities.pdf?fbclid=IwAR0zXEIGD1dB1VvOjXiRi13JwXAq-bOHhpHg3iJDmAENAs23d7aKyayKtGA

From the VT Developmental Disabilities Council letter to Self-Advocates, Advocates and Families dated 4/9/2020, regarding hospital triage plans:

“As you are aware, the allocation of scarce resources like ventilators has been an issue nationally for people with disabilities.  In Vermont, we are fortunate that our state Crisis Standard of Care Plan (the State Plan) does not contain language that explicitly discriminates against people with disabilities, as is the case in some other states.  [NOTE: the Disability Law Project at Vermont Legal Aid has asked for some clarification of language to the State Plan under Patient Strategies, No. 6 for Mechanical Ventilation (page 52).  This important request is still pending.]

Statewide protection is strengthened by a March 28, 2020 Bulletin from the Office of Civil Rights at the US Agency of Health and Human Services that makes clear “obligations under laws and regulations that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age, sex, and exercise of conscience and religion in HHS-funded programs.”

The State Plan, however, is not the only document that informs decisions about the allocation of resources.  Hospitals have their own internal policies, including policies specific to Covid-19, that are intended to map to the State Plan.

In recent conversations with the Vermont Ethics Network and the Vermont Association of Hospitals, the DD Council learned that there was some concerning language in the otherwise sound UVM Health Network’s “Plan for Ethical Allocation of Hospital Beds and Mechanical Ventilators During the Covid-19 Epidemic.”  Specifically, the document included “severe baseline cognitive impairment” as an exclusion criteria for a triage protocol for critical care during an influenza pandemic (Appendix A, criteria D).  This was intended to refer to cases of neurological impairment due to end-stage disease processes like dementia or stroke.  The DD Council’s concern was that a plain language reading of this criteria could include intellectual disability.  Working with the Ethics Network and the Vermont Hospital Association, we were able to have this concern heard quickly by decision-makers at the UVM Network, and as a result, the objectionable language has been removed entirely from the triage protocol.

a dirt road through the woods full of maple trees during Autumn. A sugar shack is on the right.

Center of Excellence

United Counseling Service is an affiliate of Vermont Care Partners, a statewide network of sixteen non-profit community- based agencies providing mental health, substance use and intellectual and developmental services and supports.

Genoa Healthcare

We want you, your staff and consumers to know that we’re here for you. We can help ensure consumers get and stay on their medications, even if they aren’t coming to the clinic as often.

Pharmacy open, offering free delivery or curbside pick-up  

The Genoa Healthcare pharmacy located here is open and ready to serve you – even if you’re meeting with your doctor by phone or video!

 

The pharmacy:

  • Fills all medications (not just behavioral health)
  • Mails all medications (at no extra cost) or you can pick them up at curbside
  • Organizes your pills based on the date and time you need to take them, making it easy to stay on track
  • Helps you transfer prescriptions from other pharmacies

Switch to a better pharmacy today!

Open Monday through Friday 8:30am to 5:00pm.(Closed from 12:30pm to 1:00pm.)

Located within United Counseling Service
100 Ledge Hill Drive
Bennington, VT 05201
Phone: 802.681-4011
Fax: 802.448-6871

Other Resources

Notificación de Prácticas de Privacidad

This notice describes how medical information about you may be used and disclosed and how you can get access to this information. Please review it carefully. If you have any questions about this notice, please contact our Privacy Officer at (802) 442-5491.

WHO WILL FOLLOW THIS NOTICE

This notice describes our practices and that of:

  • Any health care professional authorized to enter information into your health record.
  • All divisions and programs of the Agency.
  • Any volunteer we allow to help you while you are receiving services from the Agency.
  • All employees, staff and other personnel.
  • All Agency entities, sites and locations follow the terms of this notice. Staff members at these entities, sites and locations may share health information with each other for treatment, payment or operations purposes as described in this notice.

OUR PLEDGE REGARDING HEALTH INFORMATION

We understand that health information about you and your health is personal.  We are committed to protecting your privacy and health information about you.  We create a record of the care and services you receive at the Agency.  We need this record to provide you with quality care and to comply with certain legal requirements.  This notice applies to all of the records of your care generated by the Agency, whether made by Agency personnel or your personal doctor.  Your personal doctor may have different policies or notices regarding the doctor’s use and disclosure of your health information created in the doctor’s office or clinic.

This notice will tell you about the ways in which we may use and disclose health information about you.  We also describe your rights and certain obligations we have regarding the use and disclosure of health information.

We are required by law to:

  • Make sure that health information that identifies you is kept private;
  • Give you this notice of our legal duties and privacy practices with respect to health information about you;
  • Follow the terms of the notice that is currently in effect;
  • Notify you following a breach of unsecured protected health information; and
  • Comply with any state law that is more stringent or provides you greater rights than this Notice.

HOW WE MAY USE AND DISCLOSE HEALTH INFORMATION ABOUT YOU

The following categories describe different ways that we use and disclose health information. For each category of uses or disclosures we will explain what we mean and try to give some examples.  Not every use or disclosure in a category will be listed.

For Treatment.  We may use or disclose health information about you to provide you with treatment or services.  This includes the potential sharing of information about you to doctors, nurses, clinicians, case managers, interns or other Agency personnel, or to people outside of the Agency who are involved in your care.  For example, a clinician might be treating you for a mental health problem and need to talk with one of our psychiatrists, another clinician,

who has specialized training in a particular area of care.  We may also disclose information about you to people outside the Agency who are involved in your health care.

Electronic Exchange of Your Health Information-In some instances, we may transfer health information about you electronically to other health care providers who are providing you treatment or to the insurance plan providing payment for your treatment. Your health information may also be made available through the Vermont Health Information Exchange (“VHIE”). The VHIE is a state-designated health information network operated by Vermont Information Technology Leaders, Inc. (“VITL”).  Your treating health care providers may access your health information through the VHIE, unless you have chosen to opt out of the VHIE and you are not in need of emergency treatment. For information about the VHIE, see www.vitl.net.”

For Payment.  We may use and disclose health information about you so that the treatment and services you receive at the Agency may be approved by, billed to, and payment collected from a third party such as an insurance company.  For example, we may need to give your health plan information about counseling you received at the Agency so your health plan will pay us or reimburse you for a counseling session.  We may also tell your health plan about a treatment you are going to receive to obtain prior approval or to determine whether your plan will cover the service / treatment.

For Health Care Operations.  We may use and disclose health information about you for Agency operations.  These uses and disclosures are necessary to run the Agency and make sure that all individuals receiving services from us receive quality care.  For example, we may use health information to review our treatment and services and to evaluate the performance of our staff in serving you.  We may also combine health information about many consumers to decide what additional services we should offer, what services are not needed, and whether certain new treatments are effective.  We may also disclose information to doctors, nurses, clinicians, case managers, interns and other Agency personnel for review and learning purposes.

We may also combine the health information we have with health information from other designated mental health or special services agencies to compare how we are doing and see where we can make improvements in the services we offer.  We will remove information that identifies you from this set of health information so others may use it to study health care and health care delivery without learning who the specific consumers are.  To facilitate this review, we provide information to a data repository operated under a Business Associate Agreement with Vermont Care Network to protect its confidentiality.  Additionally, United Counseling Service contracts and participates in one or more Accountable Care Organization (“ACO”) which assists it in evaluating and coordinating care to patients.

United Counseling Service is a Vermont designated Community Mental Health Agency and is obligated under our contracts with various departments within the Vermont Agency of Human Services (“AHS”) to provide certain services.  As a result, these Departments may access health information related to these contracted services for the purpose of obtaining treatment for clients, making payment or for its health care operations.  Additionally, as a Designated Agency, we may provide health information to AHS for non-state funded clients pursuant to an Agreement limiting its use to an extract of demographic, non-health care information for AHS’s health care operations and health oversight purposes.

Appointment Reminders.  We may use and disclose information to contact you as a reminder that you have an appointment.

Alternative Treatment and Benefits and Services.  We may use and disclose information about you in order to obtain and recommend to you other treatment options and available services as well as other health-related benefits or services.

Fundraising Activities.  Should the need arise where information about you or where your participation is desired for the Agency’s fundraising activities, the Agency would obtain your authorization.  No information would be released for this purpose without your authorization

Research.  Under extremely limited circumstances, we may use and disclose health information for research purposes.  For example, a research project may involve comparing the health and recovery of all consumers who received one medication to those who received another, for the same condition.  All research projects are subject to a special approval process.  This process evaluates a proposed research project and its use of health information, trying to balance the research needs with consumer’s need for privacy of their health information.  Before we use or disclose health information for research, the project will have been approved through this research approval process.  We may, however, disclose health information about you to people preparing to conduct a research project; for example, to help them look for consumers with specific health needs, so long as the health information they review does not leave the Agency.  We will always ask for your specific permission if the researcher will have access to your name, address or other information that reveals who you are, or will be involved in your care at the Agency.

As Required by Law.  We will disclose health information about you when required to do so by federal, state or local law.  In Vermont, this would include: victims of child abuse; the abuse, neglect or exploitation of vulnerable adults; or where a child under the age of sixteen is a victim of a crime; and firearm-related injuries.  Under certain circumstances, the Departments within the Vermont Agency of Human Services who we contract with are mandated to access health information in order to carry out their responsibilities.  We are required to disclose your health information to you and to anyone you request by written authorization to receive it.

To Avert a Serious and Imminent Threat to Health or Safety.  We may use and disclose health information about you when necessary to prevent a serious and imminent threat to your health and safety or a serious risk of danger to an identifiable person or group of persons.  Any disclosure, however, would only be to someone reasonably believed to be able to help prevent the threat.

SPECIAL SITUATIONS

Military and Veterans.  If you are a member of the armed forces, we may release health information about you as required by military command authorities.

Workers’ Compensation.  We may release health information about you as authorized for workers’ compensation or similar programs as authorized by Vermont law.  These programs provide benefits for work-related injuries or illnesses.

Public Health Risks.  We may disclose health information about you for public health activities.  These activities generally include the following:

  • To prevent or control disease, injury or disability;
  • To report deaths;
  • To report child abuse or neglect;
    • To report abuse, neglect or exploitation of vulnerable adults; any suspicion of abuse, neglect, or exploitation of the elderly (age 60 or older), or a disabled adult with a diagnosed physical or mental impairment, must be reported;
    • To report reactions to medications or problems with products;
    • To notify individuals of recalls of products they may be using;
    • To notify an individual who may have been exposed to a disease or may be at risk for contracting or spreading a communicable disease or conditions.

Health Oversight Activities.  We may disclose health information to a health oversight agency, such as the Vermont Agency of Human Services Departments of Mental Health, of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living and of Health who we contract with, for activities authorized by law.  These oversight activities include, but are not limited to, audits, investigations, inspections, and licensure.  These activities are necessary for the government to monitor the health care system, government programs, and compliance with civil rights laws.  We may disclose health information about you without your permission to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and/or Office of Civil Rights when they are conducting a compliance review, investigation or enforcement action or for a mandatory report of a health information breach.

Law Enforcement.  We may disclose your health information to law enforcement officials as required by law or to comply with a court order or search warrant.  We may also disclose limited information to law enforcement officials to report a crime committed on our premises or for identifying a missing person or a suspect to assist in a criminal investigation.

Legal Proceedings and Disputes.  If you are involved in a lawsuit or a dispute, we may disclose health information about you in response to a court or administrative order.

Public Health Officials and Funeral Home Directors.  We may release information to a coroner or medical examiner.  This may be necessary, for example, to identify a deceased person or determine the cause of death.  We may also release health information to funeral directors thereby permitting them to carry out their duties.

Individuals in Custody.  If you are an inmate of a correctional institution or under the custody of a law enforcement official, we may release health information about you to the correctional institution or law enforcement official pertaining to care provided while you are in custody.  This release would be necessary (1) for the institution to provide you with health care; (2) to protect your health and safety or the health and safety of others; or (3) for the safety and security of the correctional institution.

USES OF HEALTH INFORMATION REQUIRING WRITTEN AUTHORIZATION

Other uses and disclosures of health information not covered by this notice or the laws that apply to us will be made only with your written authorization.  Examples of this may include disclosures to lawyers, employers, the Vermont Office of Disability Determination Services or others who you know, but who are not involved in your care.  Additionally, uses and disclosures of protected health information for our fundraising activities, marketing purposes, and disclosures that constitute a sale of protected health information require authorization. Also, Psychotherapy notes maintained by your treating provider can only be disclosed with your written authorization.  If you provide us permission to use or disclose health information about you, you may revoke that permission, in writing, at any time.  If you revoke your permission, we will no longer use or disclose health information about you for the reasons coveredby your written authorization.  You understand that we are unable to take back any disclosures we have already made with your permission, and that we are required to retain our records of the services that we provided to you.

Community Health Teams: These teams were created under the Vermont Blueprint for Health and are designed to create alliances between healthcare providers, local and state agencies and community support organizations who are committed to improving quality of life through coordination of services.  These services may be financial, physical, emotional or educational in nature.   Your treating health care providers may only share your health information with a CHT if you have provided specific written consent for sharing.

YOUR RIGHTS REGARDING INFORMATION ABOUT YOU

Any assistance (physical, communicative, etc.) you need to exercise your rights will be provided to you by the Agency.

You have the following rights regarding information we maintain about you:

Right to Review and Copy.  You have the right to review and copy health information that may be used to make decisions about your care.  This may include both health and billing records.  We must respond to your request within thirty days of our receipt of your request unless we notify you in writing during this period of reasons that delay our response.  If so, we may take up to an additional thirty days or a total of sixty days from our receipt of your request to respond to it.

To review and copy health information that may be used to make decisions about you, you must submit your request in writing to our Records Department.  If you request a copy of the information, we may charge a reasonable, cost-based fee for copying, mailing, or supplies associated with your request.  If you seek an electronic copy in a specific form or format of any portion of your health record, and the Agency is unable to readily produce the copy in that form or format, we will work with you to provide an alternative form or format for the electronic copy.

We may deny your request or limit your access to inspect and copy only in certain very limited circumstances.  Should you be denied or provided only limited access to your health information because it was determined that permitting you access might endanger or substantially harm you or another person, you may request that the decision be reviewed.   The Agency will choose a different health care professional to review your request and the denial.  The person conducting the review will not be the person who denied your request.  We will comply with the outcome of the review.

Right to Amend.  If you feel that health information we have about you is incorrect or incomplete, you may ask us to amend the information.  You have the right to request an amendment for as long as the information is kept by or for the Agency.

To request an amendment, your request must be made in writing and submitted to our Records Department.  In addition, you must provide a reason that supports your request.

We may deny your request for an amendment if it is not in writing or does not include a reason to support that request.  In addition, we may deny your request if you ask us to amend information that:

  • Was not created by us, unless the person or entity that created the information is no longer available to make the amendment;
  • Is not part of the designated record set kept by or for the Agency;
  • Is not part of the information which you would be permitted to inspect and copy; or,
  • Was determined accurate or complete by the Agency
    •  

Right to an Accounting of Disclosures.  You have the right to request an “accounting of disclosures.”  This is a list of the disclosures we made of health information about you which were required by law and/or were not authorized by you.  The list of disclosures will not include disclosures made for the purposes of treatment, payment for treatment services or health care operations related to the treatment services.

To request this list or accounting of disclosures, you must submit your request in writing to our Records Department.  Your request must state a time period, which may not be longer than six years.  Your request should indicate in what form you want the list (for example, on paper, electronically).  The first list you request within a 12-month period will be free.  For additional lists, we may charge you for the costs of providing the list.  We will notify you of the cost involved and you may choose to withdraw or modify your request at that time before any costs are incurred.

Right to Request Restrictions.  You have the right to request a restriction or limitation on the health information we use or disclose about you for treatment, payment or health care operations.   We are not required to agree to your request unless your request is to limit disclosures to a health plan for the purpose of carrying out payment or health care operations that are not otherwise required by law and you or someone on your behalf other than your health plan has paid for those services in full at the time the health services are provided.  However, if we do agree with a requested restriction or limitation, we will comply with your request unless the information is needed to provide you emergency treatment.

You also have the right to request a limit on the health information we disclose about you to someone who is involved in your care or the payment for your care, like a family member.  For example, you could ask that we not use or disclose information about a counseling session you received.

To request restrictions, you must make your request in writing to our Records Department.  In your request, you must tell us (1) what information you want to limit; (2) whether you want to limit our use, disclosure or both; and (3) to whom you want the limits to apply, for example, disclosures to your spouse.

Right to Request Confidential Communications.  You have the right to request that we communicate with you about health matters in a certain way or at a certain location.  For example, you can ask that we only contact you at work or by mail.  To request confidential communications, you must make your request in writing to our Records Department.  We will not ask you the reason for your request.  We will accommodate all reasonable requests.  Your request must specify how or where you wish to be contacted.

Right to a Paper Copy of This Notice.  You have the right to a paper copy of this notice.  You may ask us to give you a copy of the current notice at any time.   To obtain a paper copy of this notice, contact the Agency Privacy Officer at (802) 442.5491.

Security of Health Information.  

We have in place appropriate safeguards to protect and secure the confidentiality of your health information.  Due to the nature of community based human service practices, Agency representatives may possess your health information outside of the Agency.  In these cases, Agency representatives will ensure the security and confidentiality of the information in a manner that meets Agency policy, State and Federal Law.

Specific requirements for electronic notice: A covered entity that maintains a web site that provides information about the covered entity’s customer services or benefits must prominently post its notice on the web site and make the notice available electronically through the web site. 

CHANGES TO THIS NOTICE

We reserve the right to change this notice.  We reserve the right to make the revised or changed notice effective for health information we already have about you as well as any information we receive in the future.  We will post a copy of the current notice in all Agency facilities.  The notice will contain an effective date.  Should we make a material change to this notice, we will, prior to the change taking effect, publish an announcement of the change at every Agency facility.

COMPLAINTS

If you believe your privacy rights have been violated, you may file a complaint with the Agency or with the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.  To file a complaint with the Agency, call (802) 442-5491 and ask to speak with our Privacy Officer.  All complaints must be submitted in writing.  Complaint forms are available at each location including the reception area at the Agency’s main office.  You will not be penalized for filing a complaint.

The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services can be contacted through their regional office at Office of Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Government Center, J.F. Kennedy Federal Building – Room 1875, Boston, Massachusetts 02203, voice phone (800) 368 1019, fax (617) 565-3809, TDD (800) 537 7697.

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Notice of Privacy Practices

Notificación de Prácticas de Privacidad

Request for Access

Authorization to Disclose PHI

 

It is important for you to know you have many rights and responsibilities when you enter into counseling. The following list outlines them.

You Have a Right…

  • To considerate and respectful care which includes freedom from any physical, sexual, fiduciary (financial), or psychological abuse including humiliating, threatening, and exploiting actions;
  • To understand what your problem is, what treatment is recommended and why, who will give the treatment, and what outcome to expect;
  • To be involved in a process of informed choice, informed refusal, and/or expression of choice related to preference of your treatment services, choice of service provider and participation in research projects;
  • To expect that all communications and records pertaining to your care will be treated as confidential;
  • To have continuity of care when you are referred for services outside this agency;
  • To examine and receive an explanation of your bill.
  • To participate in all aspects of your treatment, including development of your treatment plan.
  • To have access to self-help and advocacy support services.
  • To voice complaints or lodge an appeal without recrimination.
  • To all legal protection and due process for status as an outpatient and inpatient, both voluntary and involuntary, as defined under Vermont law.

Your Responsibilities Are…

  • To be honest in your presentation of your problems and to tell those working with you how you feel about what is happening to you.
  • To be actively involved in the development of your treatment plan that will outline your problems, needs, goals, and expected outcome;
  • To be considerate of others and their privacy;
  • To present to your counselor any questions, complaints or concerns about your counseling plans or goals so that you may reach an agreement on any problem hindering your progress.

Client Rights

If you feel that any of your rights have been denied, you are requested to see your counselor about your complaint.  If you feel that this has not resolved the problem, you may petition an inquiry from the agency by completing a Grievance and Appeal form and returning it to the receptionist for processing or by mailing it to us. A grievance may be filed at anytime and can be made orally.

UCS will provide assistance to any client who has a disagreement about its services.  Individuals are encouraged to resolve issues in an informal manner with the parties involved.  If this is not successful, you may make your dissatisfaction known also by using a Grievance and Appeal form.

Rev. 09.18.20

DEVELOPMENTAL SERVICES

Consumer Rights
As stipulated in the DD Act, every person with a developmental disability who receives services funded through the Division of Disabilities and Aging Services has the right to:

  • Be free from aversive procedures, devices and treatments.
  • Privacy, respect, dignity, confidentiality and humane care.
  • Associate with individuals of both genders.
  • Communicate in private by mail and telephone.
  • Communicate in his or her primary language and primary mode of communication.
  • Be free from retaliation for making a complaint, voicing a grievance, recommending changes in policies or exercising a legal right.
  • Maintain contact with family, unless contact has been restricted by court order.
  • Refuse or terminate services, except where services are required by court order.
  • Have access to, read and challenge any information contained in their record and to file a written statement regarding any portion of the record with which the person disagrees.

In addition to the rights stipulated in the DD Act, UCS Developmental Services Division believes individuals have the following additional rights:

  • Right to access and to be represented in the legal system.
  • Right to buy, own, and sell property.
  • Right to equal educational opportunities.
  • Right to equal employment.
  • Right to fair and equal treatment by public agencies.
  • Right to protection and due process.
  • Right to worship.
  • Right to marry, reproduce, and raise children.
  • Right to privacy.
  • Right to vote and participate in the democratic process.
  • Right to services provided in the least restrictive environment.
  • Right to be free from physical, psychological, and fiduciary abuse.
  • Right to be free from humiliation, neglect, and exploitation.
  • Right to informed consent or refusal and expression of choice regarding service delivery, release of information, concurrent services, and composition of the support team.
  • Right to access self-help and advocacy support services.
  • Right to an investigation and resolution of alleged infringement of rights.
  • Right to supports that are designed to be sensitive to the physical, developmental and abuse history of the individual.

Every family that receives services in the context of supporting a family member with a developmental disability has the right to:

  • Receive services without relinquishing custody of a child or children except when custody is terminated in accordance with Vermont law.
  • Privacy and confidentially
  • Communication
  • Be free from retaliation for making a complaint, voicing a grievance, recommending a change in policy or exercising a legal right.

 

United Counseling Service (UCS) complies with applicable Federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex. UCS does not exclude people or treat them differently because of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.

UCS Provides: 

Free aids and services to people with disabilities to communicate effectively with us, such as:

  • Qualified sign language interpreters
  • Written information in other formats (large print, audio, accessible electronic formats, other formats)

Free language services to people whose primary language is not English, such as:

  • Qualified interpreters
  • Information written in other languages

If you need these services, contact UCS at 1-802-442-5491

If you believe that UCS has failed to provide these services or discriminated in another way on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex, you can file a grievance with the UCS by mail or by phone at: UCS, Grievance Coordinator, 100 Ledge Hill Drive, Bennington VT 05201. You may also file a civil rights complaint with the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights by: online at https://ocrportal.hhs.gov, or by mail at U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 200 Independence Avenue, SW, Room 509F, HHH Building, Washington, D.C. 20201, or by phone at
1-800-368-1019, 800-537-7697 (TDD)

As an employee, intern, volunteer, or contractor of UNITED COMMUNITY SERVICES, INC. (“UCS”), its subsidiary or affiliate, I believe in the dignity of each client and commit myself to increasing each client’s level of independence. As a professional, I will assist in promoting the full development of each client’s potential. As a condition of continued employment, I understand and agree that I, as well as all employees and other individuals providing services on behalf of UCS, am required to conduct myself in an ethical and professional manner at all times. Should I be uncertain as to the interpretation of these standards, I will seek advice from my immediate supervisor, division director, corporate compliance officer, or the director of Human Resources.

I. GENERAL RESPONSIBILITIES

A. I will facilitate services that effectively meet the individual needs of our clients. I will seek required guidance and assistance from staff and others to ensure the highest quality of service delivery and to resolve any problem that may impair my performance.

B. I will promote a respectful and therapeutic atmosphere, demonstrating through my actions and involvement, my unique skills to assist client with a healthy adjustment to life.

C. I will always maintain professional objectivity and self-discipline so that each client’s needs remain my primary focus.

D. I am aware of the sensitivity of my work, its social impact, and the need to continually maintain appropriate boundaries both during and following my employment at UCS. I will make every effort to avoid relationships that could impair my professional judgment or impact the trust of the public or my colleagues. Developing relationships of a personal nature with open UCS clients is not appropriate or permitted. Communicating with clients on personal social media platforms should be prevented and avoided as it violates such professional boundaries. In cases where I have an existing personal relationship with someone who becomes a client in my program or Division, I will inform and seek guidance from my supervisor. Relationships with client family members are also not appropriate and there are risks in blurring the boundaries of your professional relationship.

E. I will continually offer and participate in professional training, as is appropriate to my profession and position with UCS, understanding that I have an obligation to remain proficient and competent in the delivery of my professional services.

F. I will not discriminate against or refuse professional services to anyone on the basis of race, color, ancestry, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, marital/civil union, national origin, citizenship, place of birth, ancestry, military/uniformed services or veteran status, disability, genetic information, having a positive test result on an HIV related blood test or other legally protected classification.

G. I will not participate in or condone any form of harassment or discrimination. Should I witness or find myself as a bystander to any form of harassment or discrimination by another employee or individual performing services on behalf of UCS, I will promptly notify my supervisor, the Director of Human Resources, or the Executive Director. I will actively seek to promote respectful communication in my role, as a colleague or as a bystander.
H. I will not assume professional responsibility for clients served by a colleague without appropriate consultation with that colleague except in cases of clinical emergency and when consultation is not indicated or available.

I. I will, should I be called upon to supervise other employees, evaluate their performance in a responsible, fair, considerate, and equitable manner.

J. I will be sensitive and aware of cultural, ethnic and gender diversity and respect the individuality provided by the differences among us.

K. I will complete all documentation, including but not limited to, client records, billing records, and timesheets in an accurate, timely and complete manner. Furthermore, I will not knowingly permit others to falsely submit records and, if I obtain such knowledge, I will notify the UCS Compliance Officer.

L. I will engage in safe work practices and promote health and safety in the workplace and will comply with all UCS policies, rules, and regulations pertaining to health and safety.

M. I have reviewed and will comply with the UCS Personnel Policies and Procedures, in particular the policy on Professional Conduct found at Section IV Division H and Section IX related to Health Safety and Security requirements.

N. I have reviewed and will comply with my Division’s Operations Manual.

II. ADVOCACY OF RIGHTS OF CLIENT

A. I will work to ensure that the legal rights of each client are not violated or denied in any way. I will act in accordance with standards of professional integrity, including any ethical requirements related to any professional licensure or certification that I hold.

B. I am dedicated to the development of each client’s independence and inclusion in the community.

C. I will do my best to ensure that co-workers, fellow professionals, and UCS respect the rights of the client.

D. I will do my best to ensure all clients’ rights to privacy, including those rights presented in UCS’s Notice of Privacy Practices are followed. I will report any violations to the Compliance Officer, the Privacy Officer, the Security Officer or report using the UCS compliance hotline.

E. I will provide assistance to a client wishing to register a complaint, grievance and/or appeal relating to the quality or quantity of services and will ensure that no retaliation occurs against that client for doing so.

F. I have reviewed and will comply with both the UCS Bill of Rights for Clients and the UCS Personnel Policies and Procedures, in particular Section VIII related to Administration and Section X related to Compliance requirements, relating but not limited to the privacy rights of clients.

III. ETHICS

A. I will, when disseminating or sharing non-client information, acknowledge and reference any sources of published information.

B. I will not place myself in a position where I am under obligation to any person who might benefit from special considerations or favors. I will not seek in any way to gain special treatment from other clients which could compromise UCS. This includes other health care providers, outside vendors, community members, and any other business-based relationships.

C. I will avoid giving or receiving gifts or entertainment if there is likelihood that they may be intended to improperly influence my judgment in dealing with or for UCS, and/or if it presents a real or perceived conflict of interest or boundary violation. The term gift, as used here, includes, but is not limited to, cash, goods, entertainment, services, loans, trips, or the use of property. I will notify my manager of any gifts offered to or received by me.

D. I will make no payment, gift or favor to any person in a position of trust in order to violate their duty or to obtain favorable treatment in negotiations or the award of contracts.

E. I will avoid any situation or action that may create or appear to create a conflict of interest with clients, staff, vendors or the community in general.

F. I will, upon termination of my employment for any reason whatsoever, immediately return to UCS all property, inventions, writings, files, memoranda and documents, electronic or otherwise, that are in my possession or are under my control as a result of my employment with UCS. I will also remove work related content from my personal telecommunication and/or other electronic devices.

G. I realize that any violation of ethical or legal standards will damage relationships and tarnish the reputation of UCS. As such, I will adhere to all such standards and will encourage and support my fellow employees to do likewise. Should I have a question about a conflict of interest or become aware of any violation of ethical or legal standards, I will immediately seek guidance for my question or report the violation to the UCS Compliance Officer.

H. I understand that professional boards and accrediting bodies have ethical practice standards for which I may also be accountable. I will strive to abide by the standards of and maintain good standing with these organizations during my employment at UCS, particularly knowing that my actions may impact UCS clients and/or the agency as a whole.

IV. RESPONSIBILITY TOWARD ORGANIZATION

A. I recognize the necessity of adhering to the policies, procedures, and ethical standards of UCS and agree and commit to do so. Towards that end, I have reviewed and agree to comply with the UCS Personnel Policies and Procedures, particularly those set out in Section VIII Administration, Section IX Health Safety and Security, Section X Compliance, Section XI Management Information Systems and the Social Media Policy.

B. I have the responsibility to promote the most positive reputation possible through our relationships with individuals and the community. In this regard, I understand that spreading rumors, gossiping, or making disparaging comments about UCS, its employees, and clients does not advance the reputation of UCS.

C. I will accurately represent myself (education, license/certification, training, experience, and competencies), treatment techniques and the mental health and developmental service professions at all times. Should others misrepresent my credentials, qualifications or other information about me, I will take immediate and appropriate action to have this misrepresentation corrected.

D. I will represent UCS and the services it provides in a straightforward and honest manner.

E. I understand and agree that all ideas, inventions, discoveries and improvements whether written, drawn, photographed, recorded or otherwise produced, whether or not capable of being patented, trademarked or copyrighted, made, devised or discovered in connection with my employment and the services that I render are the sole property of United Community Services.

F. I will not utilize UCS resources for non-UCS purposes or transact other than UCS business during working hours.

G. I will not participate in any lobbying efforts during working hours unless I receive specific permission to do so from the UCS Executive Director.

H. I understand that I am not to make any political contributions on behalf of UCS. Any political contributions that I do make are strictly made on a personal level.

I. I will act in an ethical and professional manner when representing UCS regardless of circumstances.

J. I will maintain a respectful relationship with all co-workers, support their efforts to reach their full potential as a professional, and promote a healthy and collaborative working environment.

K. I will strive to maintain professional behavior and demeanor in all situations. If my behavior is other than professional, I will remove myself from the situation if possible, or will respond cooperatively if I need to be removed from the situation.

L. I have reviewed and will comply with my Division’s Operations Manual.

M. I have reviewed and will comply with the UCS Information Technology (IT) Guidelines and understand that they define the boundaries of “acceptable use” of electronic resources inclusive of but not limited to social media, electronic communications, matters pertaining to privacy and security, system access and overall best practice.

N. I will strive to uphold the standards associated with Centers of Excellence that promote UCS as a “great place to work and great place to get care.”

O. I will uphold the agency’s “I CARE” customer services values and hold my colleagues accountable to that same standard.

V. CONFIDENTIALITY

A. I will abide by all federal and state laws, as well as UCS rules and regulations regarding confidentiality. I understand that I am prohibited from releasing or revealing any information, electronic, written or oral, about clients without their or their guardian’s expressed written authorization. I understand that these rules and regulations, as described in the UCS “Notice of Privacy Practices”, and/or the agency’s policies and procedures regarding confidentiality and release of information, apply to all programs and activities including, but not limited to, treatment, training, rehabilitation, administration, education, and finance. Records and information covered by confidentiality rules and regulations include, but are not limited to, client’s identification and status records and information, diagnostic records and information, prognostic records and information, treatment, training, and rehabilitation records and information, attendance records and information, and payer and fee records and information.

B. I understand that there are certain instances where information may be disclosed without the authorization of the client. I have reviewed and will comply with Section X, Division N of the UCS Personnel Policies and Procedures which sets out requirements related to the Disclosure of Protected Health Information to Others Involved in an Individual’s Care. If I am required to disclose information I will do so in a respectful manner adhering to the client’s legal and human rights and will follow all UCS policies and procedures relating to the release of information, including those set out in Section VIII Administration and Section X Compliance of the UCS Personnel Policies and Procedures. Instances where I may be required to share information are as follows:

1. When there is a bona fide medical emergency, information may be given to medical personnel.
2. When disclosure will prevent or lessen a serious and imminent threat to the health or safety of a person or the public; such as a “duty to warn”.
3. When authorized by a court order, information may be released. Such an order would release the disclosure prohibitions but could not, of its own force, require disclosure.
4. When communication of information does not constitute disclosure, i.e.:
Those that do not identify the client in any way;Those within UCS that are between staff having a need for such information in connection with their duties or in the case of an emergency;

• Those that do not identify the client in any way;
• Those within UCS that are between staff having a need for such information in connection with their duties or in the case of an emergency;
• Those between a program and a qualified service organization. A “qualified service organization” is a person or organization that provides services to a program such as data processing, bill collecting, laboratory analysis, or legal, medical, accounting, or other professional services, or services to prevent or treat child abuse or neglect, including training on nutrition and child care and individual group therapy. (42 CFR Part 2) To be qualified as a “qualified service organization” it must agree by signing a “Business Associate Agreement” and be bound by these regulations.

C. I will follow UCS policies and procedures when storing or disposing records or other information about clients.

D. I will refer all media inquiries and other inquiries of a general nature to the Executive Director or his or her designee. The Executive Director must approve all press releases, publications, speeches, or other official declarations by designated personnel in advance.

E. I will refer inquiries seeking information concerning applicants for employment, current employees, or former employees to the Director of Human Resources, who will identify the reason for the inquiry prior to releasing any information. This includes all requests for references. I have reviewed and will comply with Section VII Division D References of the UCS Personnel Policies and Procedures.

F. I understand that my responsibility for maintaining confidentiality is not limited to clients but also includes colleagues and any proprietary information pertaining to UCS.

G. I will ensure that all of my communication, whether verbal or written, will be conducted in an appropriate and discreet manner thereby ensuring that information and identification regarding clients is protected.

H. I will not use or disclose to anyone not affiliated with United Community Services or its affiliates or subsidiaries any confidential or unpublished information that I may obtain as a result of my employment.

I. I will abide by all confidentiality and privacy laws, rules, regulations, policies and procedures both during my employment with UCS and for all time following termination of my employment with UCS.

VI. DISTRIBUTION AND ENFORCEMENT

A. I understand that should I become aware of or suspect a violation of this Standard of Ethical and Professional Behavior that it is my responsibility to report the matter promptly to my Division Director or to the Director of Human Resources.

B. I understand that if I am the initial point of contact for a client, it is my responsibility to advise on any standards of professional conduct as required by my program or credentialed profession as applicable.

C. I understand that on an annual basis I will be required to confirm my compliance and understanding of this standard, inclusive of HIPAA privacy regulations.

D. I understand that the Director of Human Resources may present any significant suspected violations to the Peer Review Committee. The Peer Review Committee, comprised of the Executive Director, the Medical Director, the Director of Human Resources, and a Division Director (from an area not involved with the suspected violation) and the Chairperson of the Incident Risk and Review Committee, will assess compliance and issue recommendations to the Human Resources department for final action. Violations of this code may be cause for prompt and appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including termination and possible legal action.

E. I understand that the Peer Review Committee will provide a forum to review various issues relating to ethical practices to assist in determining the appropriate response to issues arising through the interaction with the community and UCS’ employees.

F. I understand that this standard applies to United Community Services, its subsidiaries and affiliates. It may be appropriate that any division adapt this code to meet their specific needs. Any adaptation will be in conjunction with this standard. In such circumstances, it would be the duty of the appropriate Division Director to alert the executive director and the Director of Human Resources of such special circumstances.

G. I will, if uncertain as to the interpretation of this Standard of Ethical and Professional Behavior, seek advice from my immediate supervisor, Division Director, or the Director of Human Resources

PURPOSE:  To establish a formal mechanism for soliciting and responding to complaints, grievances and/or appeals on the part of clients or other interested parties, to utilize such information in the quality improvement efforts of the organization and to ensure compliance with the Vermont Agency of Human Services (AHS) Grievance and Appeals process.

POLICY:  It is the policy of United Community Services that any grievance or appeal regarding services and/or support raised by a client, parent, family member, guardian, or a person acting on behalf of the client, who does so with his/her express permission, will be given due consideration.

DEFINITIONS (as defined by the Medicaid Program Grievance and Appeals manual):

An action is  an occurrence of one or more of the following by United Counseling Service (UCS) for which an internal appeal may be requested.

a.) Adverse Benefit Determination means any of the following:

  • Denial or limited authorization of a requested service, including determinations based on the type or level of service, requirements of medical necessity, appropriateness, setting, or effectiveness of a covered service,
  • Reduction, suspension, or termination of a previously authorized service,
  • Denial, in whole or in part, of payment for a service,
  • Failure to provide services in a timely manner, as defined by the Agency of Human Services,
  • Failure to act within timeframes regarding standard resolution of grievances and appeals,
  • Denial of a beneficiary’s request to obtain services outside of a network,
  • Denial of a beneficiary’s request to dispute a financial liability, including cost sharing, copayments, premiums, deductibles, coinsurance, and other beneficiary liabilities

b.) Internal Appeal is a request for an internal review of an action by United Counseling Service (UCS) of an adverse benefit determination.

c.) Designated Agency/Specialized Service Agency (DA/SSA) means an agency designated or deemed by the Department of Mental Health or the Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living to provide and administer services, including services authorization decisions, for beneficiaries with mental health needs and/or developmental disabilities.

d.) ACO means Accountable Care Organization

e.) Authorized Representative means an individual, either appointed by a member or authorized under state or other applicable law, to act on behalf of the member in obtaining a determination or in dealing with any of the levels of the appeal or grievance process. Unless otherwise stated in the rule, the designated representative has all of the rights and responsibilities of a member in obtaining a determination or in dealing with any of the levels of the appeals process.

f.) Expedited Internal Appeal means an appeal in an emergent situation in which taking the time for a standard resolution could seriously jeopardize the member’s life or health or ability to attain, maintain, or regain maximum function.

g.) Fair Hearing means an external appeal that is filed with the Human Services Board, and whose procedures are specified in rules separate from the UCS process.

h.) Grievance is an expression of dissatisfaction about any matter that is not an adverse benefit determination, including a member’s right to dispute an extension of time proposed by UCS and the denial of a request for an expedited appeal. Possible subjects for grievance include, but are not limited to, the quality of care or services provided, aspects of interpersonal relationships such as rudeness of a provider or employee, or failure to respect the member’s rights. If a grievance is not acted upon within the timeframes specified, the member may ask for a fair hearing under the definition above of an action as being “failure to act in a timely manner when required by state rule.”

i.) Medicaid Program means (1) DVHA in its managed care function of administering services, including service authorization decisions, under the Global Commitment to Health Waiver (“the Waiver”), (2) a State department of AHS (i.e., Department of Children and Families; Department of Disabilities, Aging, and Independent Living; Department of Health; and Department of Mental Health) with which DVHA enters into an agreement delegating its managed care functions including providing and administering services such as service authorization decisions, under the Waiver, (3) a Designated Agency or a Specialized Service Agency to the extent that it carries out managed care functions under the Waiver, including providing and administering services such as service authorization decisions, based upon an agreement with a State department of AHS, and (4) any subcontractor performing service authorization decisions on behalf of a State department of AHS.

j.) Network means the providers who are enrolled in the Vermont Medicaid program and who provide services on an ongoing basis to beneficiaries.

k.) Provider means a person, facility, institution, partnership, or corporation licensed, certified or authorized by law to provide services to a beneficiary.

l.) Service means a benefit (1) covered under the Global Commitment to Health Waiver, (2) included in the State Medicaid Plan, (3) authorized by state rule or other law, (4) required by federal law, or (5) identified in the Intergovernmental Agreement between DVHA and AHS for the administration and operation of the Global Commitment to Health Waiver.

AHS Departments:  Department of Mental Health (DMH); Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living (DAIL); Division of Disability and Aging Services (DDAS); Department of Health, Division of Alcohol and Substance Abuse (ADAP); Department of Health, Vision of Children with Special Needs (CSHN), Department of Vermont Health Access (OVHA).

Notices of full state procedures can be found in the Grievance and Appeal Manuals published by:  DMH for mental health programs; DAIL for developmental services and ADAP for substance abuse programs.  The Grievance and Appeals Coordinator will provide copies upon request.

PROCEDURE:  A person receiving or participating in services and/or programs will be oriented to, and receive a copy of, the Agency’s Grievance & Appeal policy and procedure upon enrollment in a program.

A grievance may be expressed orally or in writing. A member or designated representative may file a grievance at any time. Staff members will assist a member if the member or his representative requests such assistance. This includes but is not limited to, auxiliary aids and services upon request, such as providing interpreter services and toll-free numbers that have TTY/TDD and interpreter capability. Clients or their representatives (i.e., a person receiving services, their family member, or other person acting on their behalf) do not have to request a written response from the agency to have their concern addressed as a formal grievance.

Members may grieve a matter that is not an adverse benefit determination including denial of a request for an expedited appeal, an extension of time by UCS for decision of a service authorization or resolving an internal appeal, quality of care or services provided, aspects of interpersonal relationships such as rudeness of a provider or employee, and the failure to respect a beneficiary’s rights.

The agency will not require that grievances be put in writing before considering them formal grievances. The agency will make forms available for this purpose, but the member is not required to complete the form. Agency staff members will assist a member if the member or their representative requests assistance in filing a grievance. UCS will train staff in the practices and procedures to promote prompt informal and formal resolution of disagreements.

A person receiving services, their family member, or other person acting on their behalf, having a grievance or appeal shall be offered a Grievance and Appeal Form to complete and/or explain the grievance or appeal to the person’s primary UCS therapist, case manager or service provider who will assist with, or complete, the Grievance and Appeal Form.  The primary therapist/case manager/service provider shall report the grievance or appeal to the UCS Grievance and Appeals Coordinator, either directly or through the related Division Director, using the Grievance and Appeal Form.  The original form will be forwarded to the Grievance and Appeal Coordinator.  The Division Director will work with the Grievance and Appeal Coordinator to review/investigate all grievances and appeals from the initial filing through resolution.

UCS shall provide the member, free of charge, with all the information in its possession or control relevant to the grievance process and the subjects of the grievance, including the members case record, including medical records and other records and documents related to the grievance, and other information relevant to members grievance including relevant policies and procedures.

Alleged Harm:  If a grievance is composed of a clear report of alleged physical harm or potential harm, UCS will immediately investigate or refer to the appropriate investigatory body (fraud, malpractice, professional regulation board, Adult Protective Services, etc.).

Written Acknowledgment:  All grievances and appeals require a written acknowledgment to be sent to the client and/or the person filing the grievance or appeal within five (5) calendar days of receipt of the grievance or appeal.  If the issue is resolved within five days, the resolution or outcome notice will be sufficient and no written acknowledgment will be required. All UCS grievances and appeals will be logged into the Department of Vermont Health Access’s (DVHA) Grievance and Appeal database.  UCS Complaints will be logged into an in-house database.

Withdrawal of Grievances: Members or their designated representatives may withdraw grievances orally or in writing at any time. If a grievance is withdrawn orally, the withdrawal will be acknowledged by UCS in writing within five (5) days.

Disposition:  All grievances shall be addressed within 30 days of receipt.  The UCS Grievance and Appeals Coordinator must provide the member with written notice of the disposition.  The written notice shall include a brief summary of the grievance, the basis or rationale for the decision in sufficient detail for the member to understand the decision, and the disposition.  If the response is adverse to the member, the notice must also inform the member of his or her right to initiate a grievance review with the State as well as information on how to initiate such review. If UCS does not act upon the grievance within the timeframe for the resolution, the member may request an internal appeal pursuant to the definition of adverse benefit determination. 

Appeal Procedures:

 a.) Filing of Appeals: Members may file appeals orally or in writing for any adverse benefit determination. There is no right to appeal matters where a federal or state law requiring change has adversely affected some or all members. Providers and representatives of the member may initiate appeals only after a clear determination that the third party’s involvement is being initiated at the member’s request, except that providers may not request the services be continued pending appeal. Appeals of adverse benefit determination must be filed with UCS within sixty (60) days of the date the agency’s notice of adverse benefit determination. The parties to an internal appeal are the beneficiary or their representative, or the legal representative of a deceased beneficiary’s estate. UCS will give members reasonable assistance in completing forms or other steps to initiate and participate in the internal appeals process. Assistance auxiliary aids and services upon request as also noted above. Members may also contact the Office of Health Care Advocate at 1-800-917-7787 for help with this process or decision making about the process.

b.) Written Acknowledgement of the appeal shall be mailed within five (5) days of receipt of appeal by the agency.

c.) Withdrawal of Appeals may be done orally or in writing at any time by members or their representatives.

d.) Member Participation in Appeals: The member, their authorized representative, or their provider, if requested by the provider has the right to participate in person, by phone, or in writing in the meeting in which UCS is considering the issue that is the subject of the appeal. This may include the right to present evidence, testimony and legal arguments. Upon request and prior to the appeal meeting, the agency shall provide timely copies of information relevant to the appeals process and the subject of the appeal, at no cost to the member. UCS shall inform the member of the scheduled appeal meeting and reschedule to accommodate individuals wishing to participate. If a meeting cannot be scheduled within the timeframe for resolving the appeal, the agency may make a decision that resolves the appeal without a meeting with the member, or their representatives.

e.) Appeals Reviewer: The UCS staff member responsible for hearing the appeal shall not have been involved in any previous level of review or decision making, not be a subordinate of any such individual, and shall have appropriate clinical expertise of member conditions or illness when deciding an appeal of a denial of medical necessity.

Resolution: UCS shall act promptly and in good faith to obtain necessary information to resolve the appeal. The internal review shall be completed, appeals shall be decided, and written notice sent to the member within thirty (30) days of receipt of the appeal. The individual/representative or UCS may request an extension of up to 14 days if that extra time is in the best interests of the individual.  The maximum total time period for the resolution of an appeals, including any extension requested either by the member or the Medicaid Program, is 44 days. If a meeting cannot be scheduled within these timeframes, a decision will be rendered by the Medicaid Program without a meeting with the member, the designated representative, or treating provider.

Expedited Internal Appeals Request:  Expedited appeals may be requested in emergent situations in which the member or the treating provider (in making the request on the member’s behalf or supporting the member’s request) indicates that taking the time for a standard resolution could seriously jeopardize the member’s life or health or ability to attain, maintain, or regain maximum function.  Requests for expedited internal appeals may be made orally or in writing with the Medicaid Program for any adverse benefit determination subject to appeal. No punitive action may be made against a provider who requests or supports an expedited resolution.

If the request for an expedited appeal is denied because it does not meet the criteria, the Medicaid Program will inform the member that the request does not meet the criteria for expedited resolution and that the appeal will be processed within the standard 30 -day time frame. An oral notice of the denial of the request for an expedited appeal must be promptly communicated (within 2 days) to the member and followed up within 2 days of the oral notification with a written notice.

If the expedited appeal request meets the criteria for such appeals, it must be resolved within 72 hours.  If an expedited appeal cannot be resolved within 72 hours, the time frame may be extended up to an additional 14 days by request of the member, or by the Medicaid Program if the extension is in the best interest of the member.  If the extension is at the request of the Medicaid Program, it must give the member written notice of the reason for the delay.  An oral notice of the expedited appeal decision must be promptly communicated (within 2 days) to the member and followed up within 2 days of the oral notification with a written notice.  The written notice for any expedited appeal determination shall include a brief summary of the appeal, the resolution, the basis for the resolution, and the member’s right to request a fair hearing if not already requested.

Finally, clients shall be advised of their right to representation or the assistance of an advocate at any stage of the grievance and appeal procedure.  They will also be assured of the confidentiality of the proceedings and that no retribution of any kind will result from filing a grievance or an appeal.

Fair Hearing: This is a process whereby the individual/representative making an appeal and UCS, working with DMH and the DMH Legal Unit, each presents their side of the situation to the Human Services Board.  A request for fair hearing by the Human Services Board (HSB) must be filed no later than 30 days after receipt of the adverse appeal decision or within 90 days of the original action.

Complaint Procedures of Other State or Federal Programs: Additional processes shall be followed as outlined by state or federal bodies not specified in this policy but whose regulations require a specific complaint procedure. When applicable to a UCS program, such details will be included in the division Operations Manual; an example being the Civil Rights Requirements in Child Nutrition Programs as governed by the Vermont Agency of Education and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Download UCS Grievance & Appeal Form