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RFMC notifies patients of information breach

River Falls Medical Clinic says it has notified about 2,400 clients of a breach of unsecured personal information.

The breach occurred after clinic officials reported stolen equipment to the River Falls Police in the summer of 2012.

Police investigated and found the stolen equipment, as well as paper documents containing patient-identifying information in the suspect's home on Nov. 28.

Police also found stolen items taken from City Hall and the public library.

Suspected thief, Gordon A. Eckes II, 35, 1450 S. Wasson Lane #41, was employed by an outside cleaning service.

Eckes was since been charged with two felonies for stolen property, one methamphetamine felony, and two misdemeanors for marijuana and drug paraphernalia possession.

He's had a preliminary court hearing on these criminal charges. A plea hearing on his case is set for 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 25, at the Pierce County Courthouse in Ellsworth.

Eckes allegedly took paper documents from medical clinic bins that stored documents intended to be shredded.

These documents contained personal information, such as the patient's first and last name, date of birth, certain patient account/billing account information such as diagnosis codes, scheduling information, insurance information, account numbers and medical chart numbers.

Some documents also contained patient Social Security Numbers, home addresses and phone numbers.

All these records were returned to the clinic.

Since learning of the theft, the clinic has been analyzing the risk posed to patients and has verified that both the electronic and paper medical records were secure.

According to clinic administrator Jon Pedersen, clinic officials have concluded that the overall risk of harm to patients is low. Out of caution, affected patients were still contacted by letter.

The notification letter is from the clinic and AllClear ID.

In the letter, the clinic has offered identity protection from AllClear ID at no cost.

AllClear ID offers credit monitoring that delivers secure, actionable credit alerts to individuals by phone.

AllClear ID Protection also includes $1,000,000.00 Identity Theft Insurance Coverage and AllClear ID Fraud Resolution Services.

The AllClear ID service will be valid for a year from the date an individual registers.

Individuals must register by April 30, 2013, to receive the complimentary identity protection service.

Pederson said the clinic takes the protection of its patients' personal information seriously and has taken steps to prevent a similar occurrence.

Specifically, the clinic has modified its policy and procedures concerning placement of shred documents. It has also verified the credentials of all of its cleaning and other personnel.

Only clinic employees and the shredding company have access to the documents to be shredded, which are placed in secured bins.

The clinic has stressed to all of its employees and subcontractors the importance of patient information privacy and security.

Individuals who have further questions or concerns about this incident can contact the Incident Response Line at 877-676-0371.