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December 7, 2012

Open Line


This edition of Open Line includes information I want to share with you:

Central Office Move:  A reminder that DIDD Central Office will begin the process of moving to the Frost Building tomorrow afternoon.  Telephone and fax numbers will not change.  However, effective December 10, please direct all correspondence to:  State of Tennessee, Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Frost Building, 161 Rosa L. Parks Boulevard, Nashville, TN 37243.

Direct Support Professional Shadowing:  We have received responses from several providers across the state who have volunteered to be host agencies for Direct Support Professional job shadowing.  Attached, is the list of those who have already volunteered.  Thank you to all those who have volunteered thus far.  We recognize employees may have an established relationship with a provider who isn’t on the list.  Employees can arrange shadowing with any provider of their choice as long as it is a DIDD contracted provider.

Providers: Please be sure to confirm with Margaret Donald at Margaret.P.Donald@tn.gov once an employee shift is completed.  If other agencies would like to participate, please contact Margaret by Thursday, December 13.

Division of Customer-Focused Services:  As the department continues to look at its systems, processes, and service delivery, we continue to make changes that we feel will best serve our population.  Recently, there has been discussion regarding elimination of duplicative roles and responsibilities within some of our systems.  Therefore, effective December 3, Advocacy Services and the Complaint Resolution System were combined into one unit with a new title of DIDD Division of Customer Focused Services. 

As most of you are aware, my initial reason for establishing the Advocacy Services Unit was to ensure that we are listening and responding to the needs and concerns of persons we support and their families so that we are their best advocates.  The name change of Customer Focused Services fits this purpose and is also aligned with the Governor’s Customer-Focused Government initiative.

Going forward, the Division of Customer Focused Services will use a person-centered approach to specialize in the following customer services across the state:

  • Advocate by empathetic listening to our customers’ concerns and providing consultation as needed;
  • Attend Circle of Support Meetings on behalf of the individuals we support;
  • Provide formal mediation services;
  • Provide conflict resolution services and training;
  • Provide Ombudsman services for those over the age of 60;
  • Provide information at family meetings;
  • Provide self-advocacy opportunities to individuals we support through statewide focus groups;
  • Coordinate customer-focused initiatives with the ARC of TN advocates;
  • Create and provide specialized outcome based initiatives to target and resolve common trends identified;
  • Respond to People Talking to People and other departmental surveys relative to customers’ satisfaction; and
  • Work with DIDD representatives and all stakeholders to address concerns and find resolution


 The Division of Customer Focused Services will be statewide and is comprised of    
 the following team:

 Vickey Coleman, Statewide Director of Customer Focused Services
 Tom O’Brien, Statewide Assistant Director of Customer Focused Services
 Yolanda Beason, Customer Focused Services Coordinator (West)
 Narkieta (Sherry) Baskerville, Customer Focused Services Coordinator (Middle)
 Chaneth Quemore, Customer Focused Services Coordinator (East)
 Dr. Michael Mailahn, Customer Focused Services Coordinator (East)

LEAN Event:  The Department of Finance and Administration (F&A) will soon be planning and facilitating a LEAN event involving interagency collaboration between DIDD, the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS), and the Department of Human Services (DHS).  LEAN is a fairly new concept in Tennessee state government, but is focused on improving the efficiency of our processes.  One of LEAN’s core values is its focus on the customer, while minimizing roadblocks.

The Employment First team has suggested focusing on enabling employment of clients with disabilities and behavioral health disorders as a LEAN event.  Sue Karber (TDMHSAS) is convening a working meeting of the various parties involved later in December to begin developing the LEAN charter, identifying the scope, goals, and stakeholders to include.

As employment is a top departmental priority, we are looking forward to working with F&A, TDMHSAS, and DHS in this endeavor.  It is hoped through this event, we can improve and standardize our employment processes.

Loaned Executive Program:  Tyler Hampton, Executive Director of SRVS, visited Central Office last week to participate in meetings and interact with various DIDD staff.  Regarding his experience, Mr. Hampton noted, “As a new Executive Director, I saw this as an opportunity to see how a state department works and get to know the Commissioner and his team better.  To be honest, I was expecting to be shuffled from meeting to meeting, listen to guarded conversations, and feel very out of place in unfamiliar surroundings.  What actually happened was very different and I appreciate the opportunity I was given to really play a part on the DIDD team.” 

Mr. Hampton further expressed, “I came away with two observations.  First, that the people I met with were all very dedicated to improving the services and lives of people with disabilities and second, they all displayed a passion for their work and an openness to improve.  I credit their leadership for the current air of energy and cooperation in the department.  My thanks to everyone I met with or who made my time as a loaned executive both comfortable and meaningful.”

Special thanks to Mr. Hampton for taking time out of his schedule to participate as a valued member of our team.

GVDC Comptroller Audit:  On November 5, The Office of the Comptroller of the Treasury, Division of State Audit, began its examination of Greene Valley Developmental Center.  On November 29, the exit meeting was held.  The examination period was July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011.  The auditors were very complimentary and stated that no major issues were found at all and that what findings they did have were very minor.  The final, formal report will not be received for about 6 months.  We are very proud of the preliminary findings of this review and congratulate staff on a job well done.

Seasonal Influenza (Flu):  Dr. Cheetham and the Health Services Division have reminded me the flu season is upon us.  In addition to an earlier start to flu season this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is predicting a higher influenza season.

The people we support are at an increased risk for flu complications.  Prevention is the goal for both persons supported and staff and this can be accomplished by taking simple steps.  Vaccinate as many persons supported and staff as possible; it’s not too late to get a flu shot.  Cover your cough.  Wash your hands often with soap and water; if soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.  For pointers on proper hand washing, please visit:


For more information, visit: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/whatsnew.htm, call CDC at 1-800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636), or contact your Regional Infection Control Preventionists (ICP):
East Region: Dan Fribourg RN, ICP 865-588-0508 Ext 159
Middle Region: Chi Ejiofor RN, ICP 615-231-5431
West Region: Lori Nelson RN, ICP 901-745-7662

ClipHoliday Care Packages:  Sometimes a mere thought can blossom into something spectacular when caring people put their minds together.  Two mothers employed at Greene Valley have sons serving in Afghanistan, and another employee has a brother serving there, so it seemed quite natural to think of the soldiers during this holiday season.  Hence, Greene Valley’s Advisory Council decided to sponsor a gift drive to surprise the soldiers during Christmas.  Wish lists were supplied by the soldier’s mothers and the flurry of buying began.


Personal products, candies, sheets, and blankets were brought to the Community Relations Department for packing.  The Advisory Council decorated the shipping boxes and also supplied a large Christmas card banner full of season’s greetings from persons served and employees.  Joyce (a member of the Advisory Council) supervised delivery of the boxes to the local Afton US Post Office.  With Customs forms completed and shipping costs paid, the six bulging boxes are on the way for their long journey to Afghanistan.

Focus Groups:  The Nashville and Memphis groups will have their Christmas party celebrations this month.  Below, are dates and locations:

Nashville: December 11 at One Cannon Way, Clover Bottom (11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.)
Memphis: December 13 at SRVS (12:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m.)