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February 10, 2012

Open Line

DIDD Team,
Hope everyone had a productive week. Below, are various items I’d like to share:

New Employee

DIDD is pleased to announce Dr. Jeanine C. Miller has recently joined Central Office as the Director of Policy and Accreditation in the Policy and Innovation office.  She is filling the vacated position of Carolyn Lantz who retired after 36 years of service.  We are excited to have her as a member of the DIDD team. Dr. Miller has a Ph.D. from Vanderbilt and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to this position.  Deputy Commissioner, Dr. Modell commented, “Dr. Miller’s education, experience and overall skill sets are a perfect match for this position of need.  There are very few people who bring to the table her level expertise and passion.  We’re fortunate to have her.”

East Deputy Director

In addition, Terry Jordan-Henley has recently been appointed as Deputy Director of the East Tennessee Regional Office. John Craven, East Regional Director, commented, “Mr. Jordan-Henley’s work has been instrumental in guiding the development of transition planning for people moving from Greene Valley to various homes in the community, along with oversight of transition plans for people who have lived in the community for some time.”  Please congratulate Mr. Jordan-Henley in his new role.

Agency Visit

This week, I visited Core Services of Northeast Tennessee with a few DIDD staff. While there, we toured the agency and three community homes. Time spent also centered on various questions surrounding the Department’s future, funding, and service-related issues. My visit to Northeast Tennessee was in recognition of Mr. Ron Bennett’s impending retirement and his 15 years of service as Executive Director of Core Services.

Upon his retirement in June, Mr. Bennett’s plans are to spend more time with his wife and grandchildren, as well as volunteer his time and efforts in the community to those who are less fortunate. On behalf of DIDD, we greatly value Mr. Bennett’s endless passion and hard work in the intellectual and developmental disabilities field. He will be missed and we wish him the best in his future endeavors. I’d like to extend special thanks to him and his entire staff for hosting and their hospitality. Finally, a sincere thank you is due to John Craven, East Regional Director, Bo Hickman, Dr. Robyn Carter, Dennis Freshour, and Jeff Grissom for their time and warm reception in welcoming DIDD guests.

November Mid-Month Waiver Payment Date

On February 9th, a memo was issued from my office concerning delays in processing state payments scheduled for today. The state’s accounting system is currently experiencing problems. As a result, payments will not arrive until the middle of next week. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused and appreciate your patience. If there are any questions, please contact Jeff Smith, Central Fiscal Officer, at 615-532-6535.

Surveying Process

As I have traveled around the state and visited with providers, I’ve heard various comments concerning possible inconsistencies in our Quality Assurance survey process.  I’d like everyone to know that DIDD takes all comments seriously and we are dedicated to ensuring that our surveys consistently measure quality across the state.  We would appreciate having specific information about situations where any provider feels we have applied our survey process inconsistently across regions.  If you believe this to be the case, please contact Pat Nichols at 615-532-6548 or Pat.Nichols@tn.gov and copy me at Jim.Henry@tn.gov.

Performance Evaluations

Please note that annual performance evaluations must be completed on all career-service DIDD employees by February 29th. Supervisors, if you haven’t already, please set aside time in your schedule to review evaluations with employees. Your attention to this matter is appreciated.  As this is a high priority of mine, I will be reviewing and personally signing off on all exceptional, as well as unsatisfactory performances.

Cars and Ramps at Community Homes

The past year, I’ve also had the privilege of visiting several community homes and a couple of things have caught my attention. I want to solicit everyone’s input on how to best minimize traffic and vehicles in driveways and other identifiable markers (ramps, etc.) which signify that a residence belongs to a person with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. As persons have a right to complete inclusion within communities, their homes should also be reflective of those which surround them. I’m looking for any innovative ideas or suggestions on how we can improve this while ensuring the health and safety needs of persons served are adequately met. Please send any comments to Holly Tramil at Holly.Tramil@tn.gov.

Burial Policy

I want to ensure all providers are aware that if there is a situation when a person served passes away but does not have a burial policy or family and/or friends able to take care of a burial service, they should contact DIDD. We are committed to seeing the dignity of every person served is respected. The Department has an agreement with a funeral home for these situations that covers transportation to a cemetery; a coffin; the burial; and a headstone. Olive Johnson is the DIDD point of contact and can be reached at 615-532-6543.

An Ounce of Prevention

DIDD would like to start taking an opportunity to remind providers of issues that have led to recoupments in the past in an effort to avoid re-occurrence in the future.  This week’s focus is on conservators and guardians. The Provider Manual requires that “Family members who are conservators/guardians will not be paid for providing direct services to a service recipient to whom they also provide guardianship/conservatorship services unless a court order is obtained expressly allowing them to do so”. Additional clarification can be found in Chapter 2, Section 21.f of the Provider Manual.

Planning and Policy Councils

Appointments have been made to all five Planning and Policy Councils (PPC) and can be found on our website http://www.tn.gov/didd/vault/PPC/index.shtml. On February 22, 2012, the Statewide PPC and the Developmental Disabilities PPC will have their first meeting to get things started; the chair of each regional PPC will also be in attendance. Details regarding meetings are posted on our website as well.

Nursing Home Transition (Arlington Class Members)

Arlington Developmental Center closed in October 2010. At that time, there were approximately 150 class members residing in nursing homes in West Tennessee. DIDD is intensifying its efforts to move the remaining Arlington Class members out of these West Tennessee nursing home facilities and into appropriate and supportive community placements. We encourage and welcome providers to support these persons in the community. If you are interested in participating in this very important endeavor, please contact Janet Neihoff, Director of the At-Risk Team, at 731-423-5889.

Have a great weekend!