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Who’s Policing Home Healthcare Industry?

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MCALLEN – We wanted to take a closer look at the agencies responsible for policing the home healthcare industry.

The Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services sets and enforces the standards of daily operations as the regulatory body, while Texas Adult Protective Services handles the investigations.

Some, like Paul Vazaldua of McAllen, prefer to keep their loved ones out of the way of the home healthcare system.

"While I think that there's very many capable home health providers and capable assisted living facilities, I just wanted to have one little more safeguard," he said.

Others rely on the home healthcare industry to look after their loved ones. But who's monitoring their actions?

According to DADS’ website, the agency "licenses, certifies and surveys home and community support services agencies (HCSSAs) for compliance with state and federal laws and regulations. Through these regulatory activities, DADS protects Texas citizens receiving home health, hospice and personal assistance services."

DADS conducts surveys to ensure the compliance of these agencies. Statistics obtained by CHANNEL 5 NEWS from the agency revealed there were 2,194 violations in total. One-thousand-four-hundred-eighteen cases were reported in Hidalgo County, 750 in Cameron County and 26 complaints were filed in Starr County from the Jan. 1, 2016 through Oct. 21, 2017.

They're also the enforcement agency. According to their website, this means “an array of enforcement actions are available under state licensing laws, including actions against an agency's license and monetary sanctions called administrative penalties. For HCSSAs with a Medicare provider agreement, recommended sanctions may include revocation of the Medicare provider number.'

If you or someone you know suspects mistreatment of a loved one in the home healthcare system, Adult Protective Services is the agency tasked with taking a closer look.

"What we do at APS is we investigate abuse, neglect, and exploitation of individuals that are over 65, as well as adults 18 and over that have a substantial disability," said APS community engagement specialist Gustavo Salinas.

When it comes to keeping your loved ones safe, he added no concern is too insignificant.

"What we stress is that you don't need to know that abuse, neglect or exploitation is going on just that you suspect that something is not right," said Salinas.

Vazaldua hopes he'll never have to encounter issues of this sort.

If you're concerned about a loved one in home healthcare, you can reach out to APS by calling 1-800-252-5400.

If you suspect a loved one is being abused, look for cuts, wounds or bruises. Signs of neglect include lack of food or utility services. Exploitation often takes the form of checks made out to cash, or a stolen identity.

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