Christine Stuart photo

HARTFORD — Dry erase boards will begin to replace paper at the Access Health CT call center to reduce the chance an employee will leave the office with customers’ personal information.

Eilene Baylinson of Maximus Health Services, the company which manages the call center on behalf of Access Health CT, said last week’s incident prompted them to speed up the process of moving toward a paperless office.

“We are moving toward a completely paperless policy,” Baylinson said Monday at a press conference.

Hartford Police detectives are investigating the incident in which an employee of the Access Health CT call center left a backpack containing the names, birth dates, and Social Security numbers of hundreds of Access Health CT customers near some chairs outside New York Deli & More on Trumbull Street last week.

It’s unclear if the backpack was left overnight, but a deli employee said they did not bring the backpack inside the store when they brought the table and chairs in from outside last Thursday. Alex Elad, an employee at the deli, said Monday that a white man around the age of 55 inquired about the backpack and said he would help get it back to its owner.

Somehow the backpack made it to the office of Rep. Jay Case, R-Winsted. A Republican staff member called Access Health CT and Peter Van Loon, the chief operating officer, walked over to the Legislative Office Building Friday to retrieve it.

Baylinson said it’s company policy to shred any personal information every day before leaving the office.

Why an employee, who is now on administrative leave, would remove four notebooks of information is still unclear.

“We’re right in the middle of the investigation,” Baylinson said.

She said the individual is “extremely remorseful” and she has no reason to believe “anything untoward was going on.”

The individual sat on the chairs near the deli and put down his coat and backpack as he was waiting for a ride home, Baylinson said. When his ride came “he picked up what he thought was his backpack and his coat and got into the car and unfortunately it was just his coat and not his backpack as well,” she explained.

“In our discussions with him he very clearly understood the policies and was very upset and very remorseful. We believe it was just completely a mistake,” Baylinson said.

Christine Stuart photo

She said removing the information from the office is a violation of their corporate policy.

But the incident has House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero questioning the security at Access Health CT. He said the incident highlights an “appalling lack of oversight.’’ 

“We were told by Access Health CT overseers that our proposals for background checks and other safeguards were not needed, that the security situation was in hand,” Cafero said Monday. “Clearly, that was not the case.”

Jason Madrak, chief marketing officer for Access Health CT, said federal officials at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services were notified of the situation, but it’s too soon to tell if they will seek to impose sanctions on the exchange for the incident.

Until the investigation is completed, Madrak said he can’t answer questions about what, if any, ramifications the incident will mean for the exchange.

The incident drew the attention of Congressional media outlets like Politico and CQ.

Hartford Police said they are working cooperatively with the federal government on the investigation.