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What Do I Need To Know About HIPAA?

With all the confusion about COVID, vaccinations, vax passports, masking, and conditions for entering stores and other public and private venues, residents of Berks County and the Reading area are wondering about their legal rights, especially under the HIPAA privacy rules. Residents of personal care communities and their loved ones may be especially concerned about how their health information is shared. This article is a brief introduction to the basics of HIPAA, and here is a link to the FAQs page of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (


Rest assured that Sacred Heart Villa takes our residents' privacy, safety, and dignity very seriously and we comply with all government regulations and mandates. That said, we list some of these FAQs to help you understand just what your or your loved one's rights are.

What does the HIPAA Privacy Rule do?

The HIPAA Privacy Rule protects individuals' medical records and other personal health information.

  • It gives patients more control over their health information.
  • It sets boundaries on the use and release of health records.
  • It establishes appropriate safeguards that health care providers and others must achieve to protect the privacy of health information.
  • It holds violators accountable, with civil and criminal penalties that can be imposed if they violate patients' privacy rights.
  • It strikes a balance when public responsibility supports disclosure of some forms of data — for example, to protect public health.

For patients, it means being able to make informed choices when seeking care and reimbursement for care based on how personal health information may be used.

  • It enables patients to find out how their information may be used, and about certain disclosures of their information that have been made.
  • It generally limits the release of information to the minimum reasonably needed for the purpose of the disclosure.
  • It generally gives patients the right to examine and obtain a copy of their own health records and request corrections.
  • It empowers individuals to control certain uses and disclosures of their health information.

The Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ created Sacred Heart Villa (formerly St. Michael Convent) in 2003 with the vision of providing a personal care home for the Sisters and other seniors of southeastern Pennsylvania. The Sisters renovated St. Michael in order to create 35 personal care residential rooms. Sacred Heart Villa officially opened her doors to her first new residents in May 2004, with space for 57 Sisters and 40 other senior residents.

The facility has two residential buildings, a remodeled dining room, a new fireside lounge, library, café, and beauty shop. The chapel remains in the middle of the facility for it truly is the Heart of the community. Each new residential room provides an individual with privacy, safety, and security in an environment of beauty and grace. Mass is celebrated each day and is open to the public.

Sacred Heart Villa is now accepting residents. If you are seeking care for yourself or a loved one, contact Sacred Heart Villa today at 610-929-5751 for a tour. You can also visit us at