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January 13, 2012

Open Line

New Employees

I am pleased to announce Dr. Bruce Davis has accepted the position of State Director of Behavioral and Psychological Services in Central Office. Dr. Davis' career has encompassed behavior analyst and psychological activities in other states, as well as working for our former division (DMRS). Most recently, he has been Assistant Professor and Director of the Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Clinic at Vanderbilt University. Dr. Davis will be starting at the end of February.

In addition, please join me in welcoming new Central Office employees, Noel Hengelbrok and Michelle Ojima. Mr. Hengelbrok will be working with the Protection From Harm (PFH) unit. His role will primarily focus on risk reduction and trend analysis. Ms. Ojima's position as Project Coordinator will have her overseeing new innovation initiatives and research. I would like to note the above positions were added using existing funds and did not incur any additional expense to the Department.

2012 Legislative Session

The 107th General Assembly convened on January 10th. This is a busy time, as DIDD is submitting three bills to the legislature for consideration:

  1. Universal Do Not Resuscitate (UDNR) Order: This amendment assures unlicensed Direct Support Professional staff can follow lawful UDNRs concerning a person's instructions for end-of-life decisions. Previously, UDNRs applied only to licensed staff.
  2. Admissions Review Committee: The purpose of this amendment is to remove references to local admissions review boards at the remaining developmental centers (Clover Bottom, Harold Jordan Center, and Greene Valley). If enacted, there will be one statewide admissions review committee responsible for admissions decisions to a state developmental center.
  3. Licensure: If enacted, this legislation would transfer the responsibilities of licensure of facilities and services for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities from the Department of Mental Health to DIDD.

If approved, these three actions will streamline functions and allow for consistency within the Department. As new developments occur, we will continue to keep everyone updated.

Commissioner Luncheons

Towards the end of January, I will be inviting persons served to come have lunch and conversations with me in my office. This will be done on a monthly basis and four to five persons will be randomly selected each time. If providers are interested in submitting names for the first luncheon, please contact Felicia Thompson at (615) 532-6533 or felicia.thompson@tn.gov. She will then follow-up when a date and other arrangements are finalized.

Information Systems Update

DIDD is preparing a plan to upgrade and replace our current technologies with a single integrated database system. The new system will allow for greater efficiency while saving the state millions of dollars. Our new system (called Project Titan) will be highly adaptable and deployed rapidly. Over the next twelve to eighteen months, we expect considerable progress to be made.