Pinellas County Health Department employee fired after posting clients’ private information on Facebook page

Better Call Behnken

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – A Better Call Behnken investigation found that at least 12 people’s private information and medical status was posted on a Facebook page by an employee of the Pinellas County Health Department.

That employee has now been fired, and officials told one victim that the Facebook page was closed and members shared a “common interest.”

That concerns one victim, Trevor Merada. He told Investigator Shannon Behnken that he worries about his safety after the health department advised him to report any suspicious activity to law enforcement.

Merada was notified by a letter over the weekend, but the letter states that the health department became aware of this situation on Jan. 3. It went on to say that his social security number, address, client identification number and status as a participant in a medical program were included in the Facebook post.

He is HIV positive and said he depends on the program to receive life-saving medication.

“They talked about that this group had a common interest, and that set off red flags in my mind,” Merada said.

A spokesman for the health department told Better Call Behnken they reached a Facebook representative this afternoon who said they have removed the posting.

There’s still no information on what the page is used for, but all of this was forwarded to the state office of inspector general for investigation.

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