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Archive for July, 2013

Health Care Personnel Registry

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Job security is always an aspect to consider when choosing a job or career path, especially with a sloping economy. Economists are predicting that over the next fifteen years certain jobs in the medical field such as nurses and nursing assistants will become in short supply, which will increase the demand for such jobs. There are many different certifications and licenses you may receive within this targeted medical field such as becoming a registered nurse, a certified nursing assistant, a licensed practical nurse, along with many more. Persons in the health care field have a very emotional job as they work with those who are sick and ill. As they work with those, who many times cannot take care of themselves, sometimes questions and allegations arise as they help others’ loved ones.

In the State of North Carolina, the Department of Health and Human Services has created a Registry to help monitor any accusations that may arise regarding a discrepancy. The creation of the registry can be found in NC General Statute Section 131E-256 – Health Care Personnel Registry, where it states that:

(a)       The Department shall establish and maintain a health care personnel registry containing the names of all health care personnel working in health care facilities in North Carolina who have:

(1)       Been subject to findings by the Department of:

a.        Neglect or abuse of a resident in a health care facility or a person to whom home care services as defined by G.S. 131E-136 or hospice services as defined by G.S. 131E-201 are being provided.

b.        Misappropriation of the property of a resident in a health care facility, as defined in subsection (b) of this section including places where home care services as defined by G.S. 131E-136 or hospice services as defined by G.S. 131E-201 are being provided.

c.        Misappropriation of the property of a health care facility.

d.        Diversion of drugs belonging to a health care facility.

d1.      Diversion of drugs belonging to a patient or client of the health care facility.

e.        Fraud against a health care facility.

e1.      Fraud against a patient or client for whom the employee is providing services.

(2)       Been accused of any of the acts listed in subdivision (1) of this subsection, but only after the Department has screened the allegation and determined that an investigation is required.

The Health Care Registry can be located on the website of The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Division.
If a person within the health care field finds their name placed upon the Registry then it will hinder their career drastically! Within NC General Statute 131E-256 it states: “ Before hiring health care personnel into a health care facility or service, every employer at a health care facility shall access the Health Care Personnel Registry and shall note each incident of access in the appropriate business files.” This dictates that health care agencies will check the registry prior before hiring new employees.

However, it is possible that your name could be wrongfully placed upon the registry. If this is the case then you can file for an administrative hearing to contest the listing, “ Health care personnel who wish to contest findings under subdivision (a)(1) of this section are entitled to an administrative hearing as provided by the Administrative Procedure Act, Chapter 150B of the General Statutes. A petition for a contested case shall be filed within 30 days of the mailing of the written notice of the Department’s intent to place its findings about the person in the Health Care Personnel Registry.”

If the Department indeed discloses a finding then it is possible to have it removed, “ Health care personnel who wish to contest a decision by the Department to deny a removal of a single finding of neglect from the Health Care Personnel Registry under subdivision (1a) of subsection (i) of this section are entitled to an administrative hearing under Chapter 150B of the General Statutes. A petition for a contested case hearing shall be filed within 30 days of the mailing of the written notice of the Department’s denial of a removal of a finding of neglect.”

If you or someone you know finds that they have been accused of misappropriation of property or for any of the findings listed above in Wilmington, NC in New Hanover County, Brunswick County (Bolivia, NC), or Pender County (Burgaw, NC) and have had their name listed on the registry, even if it is listed as “pending investigation”, then call Collins Law Firm at: 910-793-9000910-793-9000 for a confidential consultation.
Rachel R. Reynolds, Paralegal

Increased Law Enforcement Crackdown on Fourth of July Rowdy Celebration on Masonboro Island

Thursday, July 4th, 2013

The Wilmington Star News recently reported that there are additional precautions in place for this year’s annual Fourth of July bash on Masonboro Island which will be focused on public safety. However, Richard Johnson founder of Masonboro.org, which is a volunteer organization dedicated to protect public access to the island, says as conservationists their group has solved the problem of leftover trash – by assuming responsibility for removing it.  Mr. Johnson said that the “amount of trash we picked up two years ago was 2,500 pounds. Last year, it was 4,000. . . . I don’t like it, but if the party is going to be there and the trash is going to be left behind, Masonboro.org is going to be there to clean it up.”

Trash and beer cans left on the island is the most visible remnant of the party, according to the Wilmington Star News (the Star News).  The annual event draws hundreds of revelers to the island each year. The Star News reported that many get to the festivities by hitching rides on boats with people they don’t know and are left stranded on the island after the party, with no way back to the mainland. Last year, nearly 1,500 people came to party, resulting in a handful of drunken fistfights and more than 130 injuries requiring medical attention.

Wilmington Star News reported that David Cignotti, mayor of Wrightsville Beach said:  “It’s important that all the agencies talk and coordinate, and that’s what we’ve attempted to do. . . . Adding additional police protection there will probably help temper some folks and some of their activities. We’re going to be getting out early, because a lot of folks will get picked up on Wrightsville Beach and transported over, and we’re going to crack down on that activity. . . .  To take money and take people over there, you need a business license from the town, and you should not be using our public parks to take people over there.”

If the stepped up preventative efforts fail to alleviate the problems despite the outreach efforts and increased security, state agencies may pursue other control measures. Masonboro.org members have bristled at the possibility of new regulations for reserve sites that could change the way residents are able to use the island, saying that people who visit the shore responsibly shouldn’t be punished for the antics of out-of-towners occurring on one day each year.  Collins Law Firm agrees. “We heard resoundingly from our membership that they felt they shouldn’t be penalized,” Johnson said. “We really are pretty passionate about keeping things the way they are.”

The local paper at Wrightsville Beach, The Lumina News reported that water taxis transporting revelers to Masonboro Island for the Fourth of July will be under increased scrutiny this year as the Wrightsville Beach Police Department hopes to eradicate private individuals from operating illegal water taxis.

The Lumina News reported that in the past, Wrightsville Beach Police Chief Dan House said that “when boaters offer to carry passengers to and from private and public docks around Wrightsville Beach to Masonboro Island in exchange for money it contributes to the issues on both islands . . . [and] that he thinks the situation will be better managed than last year. . . . That bleed-over that we get from Masonboro is what we are trying to shut down. . . . [p]eople come back over here, usually drunk and causing problems so we are going to really focus on the water taxis.”

Wrightsville Beach Town Manager Tim Owens indicated that the Town has not issued any business licenses for water taxis anyone operating a taxi will be in violation of a town ordinance. Also the United States Coast Guard could charge operators in violation with federal law if they don’t have a captain’s license. Chief House reportedly said that his officers did not begin patrolling the docks and actively searching for water taxis until around 11 a.m. after which time many partiers had already been ferried to the island.

The Lumina News reported that this year a command center will be set up at the United States Coast Guard Station at Wrightsville Beach comprised of representatives from the Wrightsville Beach Police Department, the Wrightsville Beach Fire Department, the Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue, the Wilmington Police Department, the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, the New Hanover County Emergency Management, the New Hanover County Fire Department and the New Hanover Regional Emergency Medical Services. From the command center, Chief House indicated that all organizations involved would be able to more effectively deal with unruly situations that may arise on Masonboro Island.

Chief House also said that on the Wrightsville Beach strand, he expects more citations for alcohol and glass on the beach to be issued. The Lumina News wrote that Chief House said due to the increased signage indicating the prohibition of glass and other banned substances: “There is no way anyone can walk out on the beach without seeing it,” he said. “If they come from a private residence they could say that but … we are going to be reluctant to uphold any appeals if their excuse is, ‘I didn’t know.’”

Illegal fireworks are also a typical issue for law enforcement to deal with on the Fourth of July evenings. Chief House said that this year his department would be working with officers from the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the District Attorney’s office to increase law enforcement to stop the use of such fireworks on the Fourth of July.   The Lumina News reported that Chief House said “Our policy in the past has been to go over there, ask whose fireworks they are and nine times out of 10 nobody claims them so we seize them, because they are illegal, and turn everything over to ATF,” he said. “There are certain areas we know have fireworks on the island that we have had problems with; and we have already spoken with either the homeowners or businesses and let them know … just to give them a fair warning so hopefully it will go better than it has in the past.”

The Fourth of July is America’s Birthday.  On July 4th, 1776, our founding fathers formally executed the Declaration of Independence, which formally declared the revolt and refusal to submit to the abusive exercise of authority of our previous supreme ruler:  Great Britain.  The Declaration of Independence in its conclusion proclaimed:  We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Today’s events are part of our country’s celebration of the founding of our country.  Today is the 237th anniversary of the our Declaration of Independence from Great Britain.

In response to the recent reports of dramatically increased efforts by law enforcement and other organizations to put an end to the rowdy celebrations on Masonboro Island during, and presumably more specifically to the threat of imposition of regulations restricting access to the island, Richard Johnson, the founder of Masonboro.org, wrote a letter to the editor of the Wilmington Star News which was published in late June, 2013.  Here is a reprint of Mr. Johnson’s letter the editor:

In the recent article about officials cracking down on the annual island bash, state officials made some key points that could shape public opinion. Unfortunately, these points were just not true. The first one states that the party wreaks havoc on the island … not true. The party takes place on a small spit of land on the north end that represents less than .01 percent of the island. The second point mentions heaps of trash scooped up the next day by Coastal Reserve staff members. For the last three years, Masonboro.org has handed out trash bags and removed trash during the party. When the party is over, the trash is gone. There are no huge piles of trash left behind. Last year over 50 Masonboro.org members – with the help of Waste Management – removed and recycled 4,000 pounds of trash. I am also skeptical about the mention of 130 injuries. Our volunteers only saw a handful of people seeking out medical attention. Most of these were from stepping on oyster shells.  Finally, we take issue with the statement: “This is the last place this type of activity should be occurring.” While we are not a big fan of the party, we are passionate about keeping the island open to the public. The overwhelming majority of the kids over there behave as good citizens. Those who break a law while on the island should be removed and arrested.  When state officials present misleading facts that could shape public opinion against public access, it is an injustice to all the people who use the island responsibly all year long.  By:  Richard Johnson, Wilmington

Collins Law Firm supports the efforts of Masonboro.org, and encourages everyone to behave and party responsibly and safely not only on the Fourth of July, but always.  However, if you or someone you know receive a traffic ticket or get charged with a crime in or around Wilmington, NC in New Hanover County, Brunswick County (Bolivia, NC), or Pender County (Burgaw, NC) call Collins Law Firm at: 910-793-9000910-793-9000 for a confidential consultation.

Crackdown on Under Age Drinking of Alcohol Stepped Up in New Hanover County

Monday, July 1st, 2013

The Wilmington Star News – the primary printed news publication in New Hanover County North Carolina reported on recent efforts by law enforcement to  promote adherence to the state’s underage drinking laws.

The paper reported that the New Hanover County ABC Board and the District Attorney’s Office may be teaming up once again to help reduce underage drinking in the area.  The areas include Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, and all other areas in New Hanover County, and possibly Pender County.

The paper reported that the Fifth Prosecutorial District’s top prosecutor, Ben David, asked the local ABC Board for assistance in developing a uniform way to enforce and punish cases involving underage drinking and related offenses.

Earlier this month, Ben David asked the board for a grant of $106,000 to fund a program comprised of two full-time positions – an assistant district attorney dedicated to prosecuting alcohol cases and a victim-witness coordinator for the specialized prosecutor.

The proposed program would specialize in handling charges from a multi-agency downtown task force, driving-while-impaired arrests involving minors, fraudulent identifications, and underage possession of alcohol.

According to the Star News, Ben David indicated that his focus with the program is on education for first-time offenders, and that underage drinking often leads to other crimes and that by reaching out to teenagers and others under the age of twenty one years of age, they can improve prevention of future problems.

The ABC Board and Ben David  worked together before to increase enforcement of North Carolina’s laws regarding fraudulent identification documents and have promoted increased use of laws that result in the revocation of the offender’s driver’s license if convicted of fraudulent identification offenses.

The Star News indicated that the new project might have hurdles to overcome around before it can be implemented.  The paper reported that Tom Wolfe (who serves on the ABC Board and also is a county commissioner) said “conceptually it looks great [if] we could work something out to help kids realize the seriousness of underage drinking,” but that Wolfe said the local board still had to discuss the proposed program with state ABC Commissioners to make ensure it met the required guidelines before it could be approved.  It was reported that if finally approved, the program would start in October 2013 and be implemented through August 2014.

Southeastern North Carolina is known as an area which is popular for young people to attend College and pursue careers.  Naturally young people enjoy to play and party around our  beaches and downtown areas which provide various opportunities in which they may get charged with crimes. Many young people under the age of twenty one years old (the minimum age to legally purchase and consume alcoholic beverages) either purchase or create fake IDs online or use friends’ IDs who are of age to purchase alcohol.

Convictions of using fake IDs have serious consequences. The conviction of possession of a false identification or a fake ID alone often results in prosecution therefor. The original owner of the ID may face criminal liability as well.  If convicted of an offense involving a fake ID, N.C.G.S.§ 20-16(a)(6) provides that, one faces a mandatory suspension of their license by the Division of Motor Vehicles. In many cases, reinstatement of one’s license or the issuance of a limited driving privilege or hardship license before the end of the mandatory suspension is not possible.  However, in many cases, avoiding a conviction is possible.

Attorney David Collins has almost 20 years of experience in the legal field, and has represented many people charged with underage consumption or possession of alcohol, and many college students or others charged with  crimes involving  fake IDs successfully. If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime involving underage consumption or possession of alcohol or a fake ID, call (910) 793-9000(910) 793-9000 for a free confidential consultation.