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June 29, 2012

Open Line

DIDD Team,

Below, are various items I would like to share:

  • Protection From Harm Director:  DIDD is pleased to announce Dr. Rebekah Thomas has recently joined Central Office as the Director of Protection from Harm in the Policy and Innovation office.  She is filling the position vacated by Carol Wilkin.  We are excited to have her as a member of the DIDD team.  Dr. Thomas has a Ph.D. from Tennessee Technological University and brings tremendous knowledge and skill to the position.  Prior to joining Central Office, Dr. Thomas served as Director of the Middle Tennessee Regional Office Behavior Analyst Department for six (6) years.  In addition, prior to joining the Regional Office, Dr. Thomas was an approved DIDD provider of behavior analyst services for three years.  Deputy Commissioner Dr. Modell commented, “Dr. Thomas is extremely talented, possessing an array of leadership and clinical competencies that are needed for the position.  She will play a vital role in leading the Protection from Harm system in the future.  We’re fortunate to have her on the team.”  Dr. Thomas can be reached via e-mail at Rebekah.A.Thomas@tn.gov.

  • East Director of Transition:  The East Regional Office welcomes Julia Kiehna as the East Director of Transition.  Ms. Kiehna has worked with the East Transition Unit with previous experience in other roles at Greene Valley Developmental Center and as an Independent Support Coordinator.  Most recently, as Transition Coordinator for the East region, she supported more than 80 persons in transitioning from Greene Valley Developmental Center to a variety of HCBS providers, private ICF/ID settings as well as the East TN Community Homes and, for one person, to the West TN Community Homes.  Ms. Kiehna can be reached by phone at 423-787-6953, or by e-mail at Julia.Kiehna@tn.gov.


  • Community Visit:  This week, I had the opportunity to visit Our Thrift Store in Franklin.  The store’s founders, Dave and Sandra Krikac, were awarded with Certificates of Appreciation from Governor Haslam.  Mr. and Mrs. Krikac developed the concept of Our Thrift Store after their daughter, who has developmental disabilities, was unable to find meaningful employment.  Our Thrift Store has been instrumental in providing employment and significant work experience to persons with disabilities.  In addition to supporting people to work at Our Thrift Store, the staff also support people to find jobs with other employers.  People are pursuing careers in a wide variety of fields, including Information Technology.  For more information, please visit: http://ourthriftstore.squarespace.com/.
  • Middle Tennessee Community Homes:  Please view the attached photo and floor plan of the homes.  It is anticipated groundbreaking will occur for the first phase in September 2012.


  • ISC Comments:  ISCs are committed to ensuring the best interests of persons served are met and of the utmost priority.  Julie Vest, Chair of the Tennessee Alliance of Support Coordinators, offered the following comments from a meeting held this week with ISC Directors:

“ISC Directors across the state were happy to have the opportunity to meet with Commissioner Henry and his team this week.  One of the topics discussed was the new Community Transition Policy.  The Commissioner is encouraging ISCs, providers, family members, and conservators to work together in following this policy while focusing on the needs of those we support.  He also encouraged continued improvements in professional working relationships between ISC and provider agencies.  ISCs were encouraged to support people in provider selection with not only freedom of choice, but also in making an informed choice.  ISC Directors expressed a willingness to work with all providers in resolution of any problems or concerns that may come up as we implement this new policy.  Providers are encouraged to contact ISC Directors with concerns or problems as needed.  ISC Directors all agreed that the focus of any transition is the person we support and all parties should work together to ensure that any transition is in the best interest of the person.”

  • New Provider Approval Procedure:  Beginning on July 15, 2012, a new procedure will go into effect for the approval of Behavior Analysts and Behavior Specialists.  Please follow the link to the document that provides details about the application review process: http://www.tn.gov/didd/vault/health_services/BehaviorProviders/BEHAVIOR%20PROVIDER%20QUALIFICATIONS.pdf.  The new system requires that Behavior Analysts and Behavior Specialists be board certified, but the requirement for board certification will not apply to existing providers for now.  The procedure also has a path for prospective BAs to gain work experience as Behavior Specialists.  There are also several provisions for revocation of approval included in this procedure which will apply to all providers.  Please review this procedure carefully and if you plan to apply, please do not use the existing application.  You may request a new application through Bruce E. Davis, Ph.D., Director of Behavioral and Psychological Services at Bruce.Davis@tn.gov.  Applications postmarked after July 15, 2012, will be considered under this new procedure.


  • Tennessee Autism Summit Team:  The Tennessee Autism Summit Team is assessing the needs of children and youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders throughout Tennessee to develop a plan for a comprehensive, coordinated system of health care and related services for children and youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other developmental disabilities.  The Vanderbilt Kennedy Center is seeking parents to complete a questionnaire.  If you would like to participate, please take the survey on Autism Services at https://redcap.vanderbilt.edu/surveys/?s=MogITG.  Please press the “Ctrl” option on your keyboard and then click the link to access the survey.

  • Community Transition Plan:  For the next 90 days, I will be personally approving all transition requests involving a change in providers.  To ensure timely processing, it is imperative all pertinent documents are included prior to the plan’s submission to the regional office.  In accordance with the newly developed Community Transition Policy, the regional offices are working closely with my office to ensure approved transitions are for the sole benefit of the person served.  You can view the policy at: http://www.tn.gov/didd/vault/provider_agencies/policies.shtml.  Persons served, families, providers, and ISCs should not notice a change in practice other than possible requests for more information regarding the reason for transition.  Please notify your Regional Director for additional information or guidance.


  • Provider Manual Changes for Periodic Review and ISC Monthly Review:  Further clarification is needed regarding some communication in previous editions regarding Provider Manual changes that are to be implemented July 1, 2012.  Per the provider periodic review and ISC monthly review instructions, provider agencies who are responsible for coordination of medical care for people we serve, are no longer required to submit copies of every medical evaluation or follow-up to the ISC, with the exception of the current physical and dental consult.  Copies of all medical consults will be maintained in the person’s comprehensive record which is defined as a combination of paper and/or electronic based information.  The benefits are:

•     More accurate/pertinent information will be provided related to changes needed in the person’s supports
•     Immediate regulatory relief for all providers (including a substantial cost savings in both time and paper)
•     Elimination of duplication of requirements (i.e. without this change, providers are required to provide the provider review and the actual copy of the consult itself)

  • Licensure:  The transition of the licensure function from the Department of Mental Health to DIDD is still ongoing.  However, as part of the Realignment of Regional Agency Teams discussed in a prior edition, we are pleased to announce the transition of the following staff to the DIDD Office of Risk Management and Licensure: Gale Carter, Licensure Coordinator (West), Rita Tate, Licensure Coordinator (Middle), and Elaine Matthews, Licensure Coordinator (East).