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Illinois Business License Defense LawyersIn January 2020, the Adult Use Act 410 ILCS 705 came into effect. Adults over the age of 21 years old are now able to legally purchase cannabis for recreational use from licensed dispensaries across the state.

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDPFR) has the sole authority to regulate cannabis dispensaries and its employees. However, the rules governing dispensary agents are murky. We outline preventative measures all dispensary agents can take to reduce the risk of compliance violations.

Agents and Agents-in-Charge

Dispensary employees are designated as “agents” for purposes of regulation, while dispensary managers are designated as “agents-in-charge.” Both must hold valid agent identification cards and must comply with the following:

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Chicago Healthcare License Defense AttorneysThe clerical aspect of data collection in the medical industry is not often included in the immediate list of important concerns for licensed medical professionals. However, what data is collected, how it is collected, how it is distributed, and how it is accessed are just a few of the common, overarching issues that licensed medical professionals may personally encounter, and certainly a larger issue in the industry as a whole.

One component that makes the data itself problematic is the manner by which it is collected. A patient may see multiple providers, or go to multiple medical facilities. They may employ their insurance for certain visits, but other visits may not be covered. How does the patient’s medical history from one hospital visit make it into their file when they visit a completely different hospital or doctor? What about if they visit a hospital or medical facility in an entirely different city, state, or even country? Each individual facility certainly collects the data on the patient and retains it within their system. However, these systems are isolated and subject to the particular protocols of that specific facility that the patient visited. Of course, other medical facilities can “order” this patient history from different medical facilities, but this process is inconsistent and may take precious time that is needed to properly treat the patient.

In addition to the isolated nature of medical data collection, the issue is that a patient is often expected to self-report their entire medical history to help better guide their treating physician. Patients are unreliable for various reasons, including shame/guilt/embarrassment, forgetting and inadvertently omitting medical visits and information, improperly remembering specific medical issues, lack of knowledge on previously used medications, inability to correctly identify dates, times, and facilities, and so much more. If a patient enters a medical treatment facility, the licensed medical professional may simply rely on the patient to provide a relatively accurate snapshot of their medical history, and this is not reliable. This occurs, in short, because our nation does not have a systemwide medical data program that allows each person to have a conglomerate report of their medical history to easily provide to the person treating them.

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FOID Card Appeals LawyersThe Supreme Court of Illinois just issued its highly anticipated opinion in Evans v. Cook County State’s Attorney, 2021 IL 125513. Evans considered whether Section 10 of the FOID Card Act – which establishes a process for relief from firearms disabilities – automatically and permanently makes this relief unavailable to convicted of felons. The Supreme Court of Illinois determined that Section 10 of the FOID Card Act was intended to be a mechanism for firearm civil rights restoration for some convicted felons.

Evans was convicted of two felonies in 1994. Both were related to controlled substances. Evans applied for a FOID card in 2018 but was denied. The Illinois State Police’s (ISP) justification was based on federal law. ISP argued that Section 922(g)(1) of the Federal Gun Control Act of 1968 prohibits an individual from possessing a firearm when that person “has been convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.”

The circuit court agreed with the ISP and rejected Evans’s petition to have his firearm rights restored. The court reasoned that federal law barred Evans from obtaining a FOID and Evans had also failed to prove that his owning a firearm would not be contrary to the public interest. Evans had submitted various materials to the court in support of his rehabilitated character including letters of recommendation. However, the circuit court did not find those materials to be persuasive.

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Healthcare License Defense AttorneyLicensed chiropractors know that it requires extensive training, practice, and investment in time and money to become a professional licensed chiropractor in the state of Illinois. Despite the fact that chiropractors are governed by the Illinois State Medical Disciplinary Board, there is still a prevalent general stigma against licensed chiropractors due to years of false conflation/comparisons to other licensed medical professionals, and the general idea that chiropractors perform some kind of pseudo-medicine. We at Williams & Nickl know that is not the case, and we support our licensed chiropractors. However, we are aware of the particular stigmas that they face.

Arguably the most common misconception is that chiropractors are not “real” medical professionals and that their medical practices are not based in any kind of established science or medicine. In reality, as licensed professionals know, chiropractors are required by the state medical board to undergo extensive education and training, and this education often overlaps with all the basic medical and science studies that other medical professionals experience. They are also required to take and pass multiple national board exams to become licensed, in addition to their own state’s requirements. While there are distinct differences between a licensed physician and a licensed chiropractor, for example, both licensed professionals are rooted in a background of medicine and science with extensive education and training.

There is also the assumption that chiropractic medicine is not rooted in real medicine/science, and that the practices are just nonsense, or, worst case scenario, chiropractic techniques can irreparably harm a patient’s body. Just like in all medical and scientific fields, things can go wrong, or mistakes can happen. However, they are extremely rare, and occur in spite of the most stringent practices and protocols. If a medical mistake occurs, the stigma against chiropractors seems “justified,” and this is in part due to the overarching idea that chiropractors do not perform valid medicine. In reality, they have extensive knowledge of the body and this stigma largely stems from the baseless assumption that adjusting joints in the way that chiropractors do is simply random or meaningless.

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Business License Defense AttorneyWilliams & Nickl (W&N) authored two legislative bills that were both signed by the Governor in August 2021. These legislative changes to the Private Detective, Private Alarm, Private Security, Fingerprint Vendor and Locksmith Act (Act) were the product of the combined efforts of W&N, the Associated Detective and Security Agencies of Illinois (ADSAI) and the Illinois Security Professionals Association (ISPA).

Public Act 102-0152 made significant changes to the training requirements for private detectives and their employees and private security contractors and their employees. Another change is that all licensees and employees who were issued Firearm Control Cards (FCC) (or who wish to apply) will have changes in the number of hours required to obtain a firearm training certificate and the addition of annual refresher firearm training requirements. We include a short summary of the Act changes made by PA 102-0152. All licensees are urged to read through the Act changes:

20-Hour Basic Training

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Healthcare License Defense LawyerAny licensed social worker across the country faces similar commonplace issues that directly stem from nationwide systemic problems such as: poverty, racism, classism, domestic and community violence, accessibility to education, and so much more. Social workers often find themselves helping families who are struggling to get their basic needs met, and it can be extremely disillusioning/disheartening to witness the experiences and daily lives of these individuals. Worse yet, many social workers cite the inability to resolve these issues, or provide substantive assistance when the issues are deeply rooted in society.

In Chicago, social workers face the above-outlined challenges, and even more. For social workers who practice within the educational system, they likely find themselves in Chicago Public Schools, which is the third largest school district in the country, and publicly known to be rife with various shortcomings, specifically due to the large number of students coming from various backgrounds. Chicago is extremely diverse, but there is a clear divide of race and class across the North and South sides. Notably, people of color, specifically Chicago’s Black residents, are systemically disenfranchised and face unique experiences of poverty, violence, lack of community support, and lack of educational options. Social workers are often employed within schools, where it is easier to reach a larger number of struggling individuals, but certainly also interact with these folks on a community “door-to-door” level. Licensed Social Workers in Chicago specifically note this clear segregation between the quality of life for Chicago’s white residents and its residents of color.

Chicago social workers cite the greatest area concern with the prevalence of high caseloads. Due to racial and class inequality in Chicago perpetuated by the long history of segregation between the North and South sides, and the perpetuation of this inequality by the last few decades of local government, Chicago struggles immensely in providing a high quality of life to all of its residents. Social workers note that with such high caseloads, they are often travelling across the city to various residences, or, if they are working within an educational setting, they are often expected to provide care to multiple institutions, sometimes even in the same day. Social workers are forced to hop from location to location, and the ability to provide help is limited by these conditions.

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Healthcare License DefenseMost towns, or at least larger cities, have a veterinary hospital to take care of our furry family members. The demand for veterinary services is not decreasing, especially with the rise in pet adoptions during the pandemic, when more people were home to take care of and raise animals. So while veterinary hospitals are not hurting for clients, there can still be a loss in profit depending on particular conditions of operation, pricing, and business protocols.

Veterinary hospitals owned and operated by a larger corporate chain are less likely to suffer the direct blow of profit loss. These hospitals have a safety net of corporate money that allows the individual hospital owned by that company more wiggle room in spending and general costs. There is certainly a benefit to having this safety net, especially when expensive equipment purchases need to be made, or new employees need to be onboarded. For veterinary hospitals who are self-owned, the licensed veterinarian(s) may be more personally responsible and involved with spending. If money is needed for particular things beyond day-to-day costs, there is no corporate pool from which to grab. If the money is needed but does not exist, some small vet offices may even have to resort to loans to cover costs of equipment and employee onboarding.

One of the ways that independent veterinary hospitals can attempt to increase, at least stabilize, their profit is by carefully identifying cost, value, frequency of services, and other related factors. For a corporate-owned hospital, these fees and costs may be determined by a provided financial advisor, who can observe supply and demand, cost of goods sold, and comparative fees associated with the standard services provided to patients. These types of decisions must be made, and protocols must be enacted on a more individual level with a small veterinary hospital. One of the reasons an individual might choose the services of a small business is the attractive pricing, and the feeling of supporting an independent entity rather than a corporate one. However, these generally lower costs can gravely affect the profit of the independent vet hospital. Thus, decisions must be made on price increases to counteract the expenses, and this can be a difficult transition that may even result in loss of clients. It is certainly a level of balance and personal involvement that is virtually non-existent in a veterinary hospital owned and managed by a corporate entity.

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Real Estate License DefenseSince the pandemic started in March of 2020, there have been many changes and unexpected effects/conditions/outcomes in many professional industries. Licensed real estate brokers and appraisers are in, perhaps, one of the more unique situations directly stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic: an enormous housing boom that has generated a frenzied market of high sale prices, even higher offers, and extremely low mortgage rates. Just like the pandemic itself, these conditions are unprecedented and have been rocking the relatively steady industry.

There are likely a variety of conditions that intersected to create this particular current market. Although economical and other similar conditions have been greatly altered with the pandemic, one cannot ignore the human impact rooted in conditions of life. For many people who normally experience a hectic daily life, they suddenly found themselves working remotely 100% of the time. This caused many to reflect on their current living situation and many reached the same conclusion: it was time to buy a house, especially if conditions of the pandemic created the reality of being home most of the time. There is also the simple fact that more people were saving money due to lack of commute and the closure of mostly everything. Thus, many people were finally simultaneously emotionally/mentally and fiscally ready to pursue the housing market. This newly gained interest and “supply” for licensed real estate professionals certainly fed the current housing boom.

The mere fact that many more people are looking for houses than in a normal market also creates the increased prices. People are ramping up their initial offers to far above the asking price simply due to the sheer amount of people also vying for that same house. The potential buyer may assume that the only way to get the house is to outbid all other parties, which may or may not be true; in the end, however, it results in most others operating in this same way, and this causes houses to be sold tens of thousands of dollars above their asking price not because the house is valued as such, but because of the amount of people competing for one particular house. While this condition is not uncommon in the real estate industry, it is usually not a widespread phenomena across all standard houses.

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Dental License DefenseDentists and hygienists endure many industry-specific challenges with their respective professional licensure. Potentially the biggest area of concern and hardship is insurance, both that the patient has/does not have insurance, and if insurance is involved, struggling to work with the insurance companies to get patients’ procedures effectively covered. In the same vein, on the professional/business side, dental offices also must contend with insurance companies to get paid for their own work that they do. These struggles are industry-wide, and do not have a blanket solution.

In the United States, which has a for-profit health care system and citizens are not required to have health insurance, including the many individuals that simply do not have the ability acquire it. In addition to the struggle to obtain health insurance, dental (and vision) insurance are completely separate insurances that are often not included with basic healthcare plans. This results in individuals having to do one of three things: 1) do not get dental insurance, 2) pay extra/additional to get dental insurance through their main health insurance plan, or 3) pay for a separate dental insurance plan that is separate and different from their health insurance (and usually costs more than if it is attached to their main health insurance).

The above-referenced conditions for the patient directly affect the services that the dental office is able to provide. If the patient does not have insurance, many struggle to afford the services that are needed for their dental health. This could result in less visits to the dentist, having to go on a payment plan, or even being delinquent in payment on the care provided to them, which particularly affects the licensed professional who needs to acquire income in exchange for their services. If the patient does have dental insurance, whether it be dedicated/separate or alongside their health insurance, both the patient and the dental office may have to fight to get the services covered. Some services are not covered but are common procedures; some insurances cover certain common procedures, whereas others do not; some insurances claim to cover specific services, but then will not do so; the list of scenarios goes on.

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Veterinarian License DefenseIn our previous post, we wrote about ways your clinic can cope with the changes caused by Covid-19. Here are some additional thoughts about understaffing and client satisfaction during the pandemic.

Question: How can my veterinary clinic navigate issues of understaffing caused by the Covid-19 Pandemic?

Understaffing in Veterinary care was a common issue prior to the pandemic. The pandemic only worsens this divide. Following CDC guidelines, an employee who is exposed to Covid-19 must quarantine until they receive their test results, and even if they are negative, the length of the quarantine is 7 days from the test. If it is positive, the quarantine period is at least 14-days, and they cannot return until they acquire a negative test. This can create large, unexpected gaps in staffing if even one employee is following quarantine protocol. This issue can become exacerbated if multiple employees were exposed and require quarantine. We recommend to have a plan and prepare for these possible scenarios. It will still be challenging, but you will be prepared for the unexpected.

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service of processUntil recently, Illinois courts disagreed on how to serve process on residents of Cook County. Some Appellate Courts interpreted the law to require court appointment of a private process server when serving a resident of Cook County. Other Appellate Courts held that the county where the lawsuit is filed is the controlling factor to determine whether appointment is necessary. Thus, if a lawsuit were filed in DuPage County against a resident of Cook County, then court appointment would not be necessary.

The Supreme Court of Illinois recently resolved this disagreement in Municipal Trust and Savings Bank v. Moriarty, 2021 IL 126290. Service of process in Illinois is controlled by Section 2-202 of the Code of Civil Procedure. Moriarty involved a plaintiff who filed suit in Kankakee County against a defendant residing in Cook County. The Supreme Court of Illinois held that Section 2-202 is concerned with where process is served on a defendant. Therefore, for a private detective to serve process on a defendant in Cook County, he or she must be specially appointed by the court.

The ruling sheds light on a murky area of the law. It also adds to the expense of lawsuits, requiring further diligence by both attorneys and process servers. Special attention should be given to the location of defendants and its impact on service of process requirements. 

Healthcare License DefenseOver a year into the Covid-19 Pandemic, there are still ongoing questions, concerns, and struggles faced by many industries. Veterinary care is certainly one of those industries affected, especially since Illinois deemed them as an Essential Service while most everything else was closed. We address commonly shared concerns and questions that have persisted throughout the pandemic:

Question: How can my veterinary clinic cope with the various changes caused by the Covid-19 Pandemic?

Things are uncertain, confusing, and wholly different. Established protocols that have been tried and true methods can no longer be followed in the same way; basic day-to-day office interaction is punctuated by strict social distancing and sanitary procedures to keep everyone safe; clients, who were once an office fixture, are commonly disallowed from attending the appointments. It can be difficult to adapt to these changes even after experiencing them for the past year. We recommend embracing the change and facing it head on, rather than comparing operations to the past. Fixating on the way things are different rather than how your clinic can expertly navigate the challenges of the Pandemic is one way to affect the morale of your staff and your clients.

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Medical License DefenseAll physicians work incredibly hard in their profession. However, not all physicians experience the same challenges within their fields. Now more than ever, gender issues are commonly discussed and acknowledged in health related professions.

Because of the intensive, long hours that physicians experience, there can be particular challenges when it comes to arranging and securing childcare or being able to take maternity leave when the time comes. Certainly, not all female physicians have or will have children in their professional careers; however, for those who do, it’s a hurdle one must navigate to both comfortably practice and also feel confident in their parenting ability. There is certainly the expectation that female physicians will somehow, with ease, juggle the intensity of their careers and be perfect mothers simultaneously. In reality, the stress of childcare, motherhood, and pregnancy, alongside the stress of long hours and unforgiving work can severely affect the physician. There have been cases of reported negligence stemming from exhaustion and extreme stress caused or exacerbated by the inability to balance these challenges; some female physicians also turn to other methods to help them through these challenging times, and it can result in substance abuse issues that could threaten their license. Acknowledging these challenges and providing solutions to put the female physician in a less precarious position is an important step that needs to be taken at many facilities.

In addition to the very real challenges of childcare and motherhood, female physicians also experience discrimination based solely upon their gender. Sexism and biased attitudes toward women are still prevalent across most industries, and female physicians fall victim to this underlying (and sometimes overarching) current within their profession. Young male physicians are often lauded and highly regarded, or even seen as impressive, whereas young female physicians are often discredited and invalidated, with the assumption that they are too inexperienced and uneducated to properly care for patients and make the right medical decisions. This thread of negativity can place immense stress and pressure on the female physician and can destabilize their career, or even generate feelings of unworthiness and the want to leave to avoid further stress.

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Psychologist License DefenseOnce rare, online therapy is now commonplace. For many patients, the ease of meeting virtually has broadened accessibility and the willingness to meet more regularly. Similarly, many mental health professionals have found the recent surge of virtual appointments as a general benefit for both their patients and their own work. However, there is an underlying thread of challenges that most mental health professionals may not even realize exist.

There are many free programs available for virtual appointments. However, unbeknownst to its users, that particular program may not even be HIPAA-compliant. If the professional is audited or reported, their license could be suspended while investigation occurs, or a license could even be revoked for a HIPAA violation, even if unintended. Although there are free programs that comply with HIPAA, the mental health professional should also research and possibly invest in official licensed programs for mental health professionals. The patient will also have confidence that their appointments are safely occurring and that any sensitive information could not be recorded or stolen from them.

The mere nature of a virtual appointment can also be less than confidential. For some patients, they may not have regular access to a dedicated space in which to have the private appointment. This certainly prevents the patient from having basic privacy while engaging in private discussions, but they may not have another choice. There is also the possibility that the mental health professional may not have a dedicated home office due to lack of space, which can affect both patient confidentiality and invalidate the professional. The general informality of this setup can prevent the appointment from being useful to the patient and can be invalidating to the professional, who likely has a dedicated office space for in person meetings.

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Healthcare License DefenseWe have already written about the prevalence of understaffing in nursing. Undoubtedly, the Covid-19 Pandemic has severely exacerbated the existing understaffing issues. Now more than ever before, nurses are facing extremely challenging work environments with unforgiving and unrelenting conditions.

Already understaffed, facilities reaching critical capacities due to the Covid-19 Pandemic only further highlights these existing difficulties. Nurses who already struggle to provide care to a typical number of patients simply cannot manage an even larger number of patients. As much as patients are filling facilities with Covid-19, nurses are being exposed to the virus and many have fallen ill. With strict and long quarantine policies, a facility can be without multiple nurses at once. This can be devastating for facilities, especially those with minimal staff.

In many cases, nurses who test positive for Covid-19 are out of work for at least 14 days, and only return when they obtain a negative test result. For some people, despite having a negative test result and surpassing the quarantine period, their physical health remains affected by the virus. Scientists and doctors have barely scratched the surface of understanding the condition known as “Long Covid,” but the reality is that many nurses who tested positive continue to have symptoms long after their initial illness. These symptoms, which include fatigue, brain fog, heart palpitations, and lesions, can gravely affect the nurses’ ability to perform their work, if they are even able to physically be at work. This creates a perpetual cycle of understaffing and makes already-difficult work even more challenging.

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Medical License DefenseAcross facilities, whether they be public or private, the issue of understaffing is a critical issue within the field of nursing. Understaffing causes a variety of challenges that affect both the nurses and their patients. It is no fault of their own that facilities are understaffed, but nurses are the individuals on the frontlines who are most affected by these circumstances, and it has a ripple effect across their facilities.

There are many reasons that understaffing occurs. As otherwise qualified individuals apply to be nurses, they can face certain bureaucratic issues that delay their ability to receive their Nursing License. If prospective Nursing Licenses are on hold, this can cause a shortage in staffing while these individuals pursue the necessary routes to clear this hurdle and obtain their Licensing as they are qualified to do so. In a similar vein, a licensed Nurse can encounter difficulties with their established license, which can prevent them from practicing while they resolve those issues. This can lead to understaffing issues in the same vein as not having enough nurses in the first place. The demand for nurses always appears to be higher than the rate at which individuals can become licensed, which leads to perpetual understaffing. There simply are not enough people who are obtaining licenses (although they may be in the process of obtaining one, or are working to reinstate a license after an issue) to compensate for the demand of licensed Nurses in various facilities.

Nurses, even without understaffing issues, generally work very long hours and regularly work overtime. With the understaffing issues caused by various circumstances including those outlined above, the challenging nature of long hours and consistent overtime is greatly exacerbated. This creates burnout, which facilitates the cycle of understaffing. This is the unfortunate reality that many nurses face in their industry and there is little to no relief, plan, or solution to alleviate these issues.

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Real Estate Broker License DefenseThe current pandemic has noticeably altered the way most industries function. Prior to covid-19, Licensed Real Estate Brokers heavily relied on the ability to meet with possibly buyers/renters in person. Home tours were always in person, and open houses relied on the ability to invite many people into a small space to view the prospective house/condo/apartment prior to applying for it. The ability to meet in person has been heavily altered, and for a time especially toward the beginning of the pandemic, all in person meetings were effectively non-existent. Despite this, the show must go on, and Real Estate Brokers must make clever adjustments in order to reach their clientele and to navigate the housing market underneath these unprecedented terms.

One of the main differences and changes to the industry is the utilization of virtual tours. It was uncommon to organize a virtual tour for a possible buyer prior to covid-19, simply because it’s difficult for the person to gauge the space and to see the details as one would in-person. This type of tour might only occur for possible out-of-state individuals looking to move to this location. With the inability to avoid virtual tours, Real Estate Brokers have had to become adept at using technology to adequately and desirably show the space they are seeking to sell/rent out. There is also a different personal experience with virtual interaction rather than in person interaction, and the onus is certainly on the licensed professional to make the experience comfortable and easy for the interested party. This requires a distinct set of skills that the professional would have to quickly adapt to in order to continue to make money and generate happy clients.

The types of houses and amenities people are seeking out has also changed. With many individuals working from home for the foreseeable future, and some possibly permanently, having a space for a home office is absolutely vital. Because of the prevalence of working from home, individuals who would not normally seek quieter spaces are doing so, which can be a challenge for Real Estate Brokers who practice in places like Chicago. This certainly has encouraged and effectively required the professional to adapt to these particularities and to attempt to anticipate these particular needs from a prospective buyer/renter in the particular circumstances generated by the pandemic.

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Pharmacist License DefenseThe U.S. Federal Government has created a partnership with 21 pharmacy networks and partners to begin distribution of vaccines across the United States as a part of a program to broaden the average American citizens’ accessibility to vaccines. Prior to this program, most vaccines were distributed solely to healthcare workers, and then to the most essential frontline workers. Federally speaking, all citizens 16 or older now have access to the vaccine, but that does not mean that they are able to secure a vaccination appointment. Normalizing vaccination availability at pharmacies is just one way that our country is attempting to provide easy access to the Covid-19 Pandemic Vaccine.

By utilizing pharmacies, the federal government can provide vaccination access to most citizens, and most citizens will have multiple options to obtain a vaccine appointment through pharmacies in their neighborhood. It can be hard to travel to governmental mass sites, especially if there is limited access to public transportation or safe transportation in general due to the pandemic. The program bridges the otherwise insurmountable class, economic, and geographical difficulties many communities in America face. The communities who are most gravely affected by the pandemic can get an appointment with ease through this program.

The pandemic will not end, or even slow down, without widespread vaccine distribution. Up until recent weeks, most citizens found it impossible to find a vaccine appointment. If this program provides hundreds of thousands of appointments for the foreseeable future, this puts us closer to the ultimate goal of herd immunity and alleviates much of the horror experienced over the last year. In addition to providing accessibility to large amounts of people who normally would not have access to the vaccine, the vaccine is also completely free.

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Veterinary License DefenseThe veterinary field is highly varied and there are different types of certification and licensing that an individual interested in pursuing the field can obtain. One may choose a particular path dependent on needs, time, salary, and how they would like to put their certification or licensing to use. They also may be limited by their current education or funds. If you end up going the licensed path, we can assist in any matters that may arise.

Veterinary Assistants

If you are interested in pursuing a specialized veterinary route but do not want to commit to licensing or certification and their accompanying fees and time spent, then the Assistant path may be a route to research. Veterinary Assistants do not have any official licensing or certification, and only a high school education or GED is considered necessary to obtain the position. Assistants will often be the go-to person for most tasks in the veterinary office setting. The clinic must be kept sanitary, and assistants will maintain these standards. Besides the important task of clinic upkeep, assistants will help the vet or certified technicians in exams of patients. An assistant may be needed to restrain the animals, comfort them during procedures, and generally assist in any necessary aspect of the exam and appointment. This differs greatly from a general vet receptionist or kennel assistant, who are often unable to interact with animals. This path might be the right route for someone who wants to be involved in animal care, but does not want to/cannot obtain certification.

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Home office cybersecurityMany professions were forced to abruptly shift to and adopt remote workspaces to be able to safely operate during the pandemic. Many physicians, real estate brokers, psychologists, and other licensed professionals who normally operated solely in person, have suddenly found themselves in a wholly foreign environment – likely their own spare room, interacting with clients and patients through a computer or phone. Certainly, many professionals have adapted to this method of practice over the last year, and some have even embraced it, or prefer it over pre-pandemic practices; however, a daunting oversight for many is the mere fact of cybersecurity. For many of these licensed professionals, client confidentiality and information protection, including HIPAA-aligned protocols, are legally required to operate. For a variety of reasons, including the necessity to suddenly shift to remote work, some professionals may not even realize that they are vulnerable to attack and that their patient/client information could be compromised at any moment.

For most of the licensed professionals listed above (and many who are not listed), patient/client confidentiality and privacy are an integral part of their practice. In addition to the requirement to follow HIPAA, it could also be the policy of the professional to contractually, and ethically, ensure confidentiality and privacy. Practicing from home greatly alters the ability to invoke the same standards that are possible in a private office space. A home office space may include visits from partners, children, roommates, or a variety of other possible visitors, and a closed door does not do much for privacy in the same way that a dedicated office space does. Licensed professionals must conscientiously think about the ways in which these conditions can affect the experience of their patient/client and agree upon a policy with those in their home office space to respect and follow client privacy policies.

Unless the home office was prepared in advance and made to mimic the kinds of resources available to the public office space, it is likely that the same types of cybersecurity programs are not in place. There have been reports of “smart” devices recording sound without the consent of the user, which could result in storage of private personal data, and criminals could access this information. Even though it is not the fault of the professional, it is ultimately their responsibility to protect their clientele through all routes possible.

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