NEWARK – The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, Office of Consumer Protection, has announced that it is seeking to suspend the registration of Precious Hands, LLC, a West Orange healthcare service firm that allegedly sent uncertified employees into the homes of patients who needed the services of Certified Homemaker-Home Health Aides (CHHA), and falsified documents it provided to the state, among other violations.
According to the Office of the Attorney General, New Jersey law defines a “healthcare service firm” as an employment agency that places personnel to provide healthcare or personal care services in the homes of clients with disabilities or who are senior citizens. Precious Hands, owned by Grace Njenga, has been registered with the Division as such a firm since November 2008. A recent inspection by the Division’s Office of Consumer Protection uncovered numerous alleged deficiencies in violation of the regulations that govern healthcare service firms.
The alleged deficiencies include:
Falsification of Documents: Each healthcare service firm must employ a Director of Nursing who is a registered nurse in good standing with the State Board of Nursing. Since 2008,
Precious Hands has filed registration documents with the Division that listed three individuals, all of whom are registered nurses, as having been its Director of Nursing at various times.However, each of the individuals has since provided separate, sworn statements to the Division indicating that they were never employed by Precious Hands and did not know the business was using their name and registration information
Client Care Issues: Before placing a care provider into the home of a client who requires care from a licensed or registered nurse or a CHHA, the healthcare service firm must:
- Verify that the employee is properly licensed or registered as a nurse or CHHA by the State Board of Nursing, keep a copy of the employee’s Board of Nursing license or registration record, verify the employee’s work history, and maintain certain other employee records.
- Create a plan of care for each client, and conduct 30-day client healthcare reviews, as well as 60-day on-side, in-home evaluations.
- Only send clients who are certified by the Board of Nursing as CHHAs, into the homes of clients who require the services of a CHHA.
Precious Hands allegedly failed to meet the above requirements. Specifically, the company provided the Division with records of 19 employees and 15 clients. For all 19 employees, the company allegedly failed to verify whether they were licensed or registered by the Board of Nursing, failed to verify their employment history, and failed to maintain other required employee records. For 14 of the 15 clients, Precious Hands allegedly failed to create a plan of care. For all 15 clients, it also allegedly failed to conduct 30-day healthcare reviews and failed to conduct 60-day in-home evaluations.
Company records also indicate that Precious Hands allegedly placed 23 uncertified employees with seven clients who required the services of a certified CHHA.
Based on the above and other Findings of Fact, Division of Consumer Affairs Acting Director Steve Lee signed a Provisional Order of Suspension that will assess a $2,000 civil penalty and suspend the healthcare service firm registration of Precious Hands for six months, beginning April 6, unless Precious Hands requests a hearing.
Following the six-month suspension, the Division’s Office of Consumer Protection would verify that Precious Hands had corrected the alleged violations, including the legitimate hiring of a Director of Nursing and other changes to its business practices.
Investigator Ron Regen, assigned to the Office of Consumer Protection within the Division of Consumer Affairs, conducted this investigation. Deputy Attorney General Alina Wells, of the Division of Law, is representing the State in this matter.
The Office of the Attorney General offers the following advice for consumers seeking a healthcare service firm for at-home care.
Consumers seeking assistance from a healthcare service firm for at-home client care should make contact at the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs to ensure that the healthcare service firm is registered with the State, and whether it has been the subject of consumer complaints. They should also ask the Division to verify whether individual nurses or CHAs provided by the agency are licensed or registered by the State Board of Nursing.
Consumers can find additional information in these documents, available free of charge at the Division’s website:
- Consumer Brief: Certified Homemaker-Home Health Aides (CHA)
- A Consumer’s Guide to Homemaker-Home Health Aides (CHA)
Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse, can file a complaint online with the State Division of Consumer Affairs or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504-6200.