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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 to Frost Building-By The Numbers:  I am proud of the work that has been done to move 140 staff, over 2,000 cubic feet of filing and other office materials, and other assorted office items including furniture to our temporary location at the Frost Building in downtown Nashville.  We have accomplished both a significant physical move while doing so with little interruption in departmental work and initiatives.

Managing this move into a location with a substantially reduced amount of office space makes this achievement even more impressive.  DIDD leased 39,659 square feet of space at the Andrew Jackson Building while the available space for the three floors leased at the Frost Building is only 23,088 square feet.  This is a 41.8% reduction in office space.

Additionally, DIDD Information Systems (IS) staff are to be commended for their exceptional work in ensuring all computers and other devices were properly connected prior to the work week.  The enormity of this effort was further complicated by no electricity in the building over the weekend.

clipCommunity Visit:  Last week, Missy Marshall, Director of Communications and External Affairs, visited Emory Valley Center on my behalf.  During the visit, Dr. Gene Caldwell and Dottie Thompson were presented with Certificates of Appreciation by Senator Randy McNally and Representative John Ragan.  Both Dr. Caldwell and Ms. Thompson have made a personal commitment to ensure Emory Valley Center has a new facility.  The capital campaign goal of 3.5 million has already reached 2.2 million in private and business commitments as well as grants.  Their tireless efforts will be appreciated for years to come.  Pictured from left to right are Ms. Thompson, Senator McNally, Representative Ragan, and Dr. Caldwell.  Thank you Senator McNally and Representative Ragan for your time and interest in the persons we support.  I’d also like to thank Jennifer Enderson, President of Emory Valley, and staff for their warm reception and hosting the day’s events. 

TNCO Conference:  On November 29, I had the privilege of presenting opening remarks at the Tennessee Community Organizations (TNCO) State Conference.  At the conclusion of my remarks, I was surprised and humbled to receive a Senate Resolution presented by Senator Becky Massey, honoring my son, John Henry.  I am very grateful John’s memory lives on and that he continues to be an inspiration to many.

Training Contract:  We are pleased to announce a five-year training contract for both web-based and classroom learning, has been offered to Essential Learning Systems.  We would encourage all agency directors, training administrators, HR directors, home managers, and staff to log into http://essentiallearning.com/  to familiarize yourselves with the new vendor’s library of classes, product demonstrations, training videos, etc.  We assure you  the College of Direct Support’s (CDS) service will remain intact for several months as we work through the technology of implementing a new system. 

We would also encourage all providers to run CDS end of month and end of year reports soon, and to ensure that each employee file has the necessary hard copy transcript of CDS training, both archived and current, before we begin the transition.  We will work with the two vendors to coordinate a date for final entry into CDS and will announce that to everyone well in advance.  Training opportunities with the new vendor will be presented in all regions.  We will also use webinars and product demonstrations provided by Essential Learning Systems.  Our regional CDS Global Administrators will be sharing training opportunities on the Essential Learning Systems product through their E-Connect portal over the coming weeks and we hope everyone takes advantage of these opportunities. 

Launch of Employment Data Collection System:  As many of you are already aware, DIDD has been actively involved with many community and national partners in the continued development of innovative and effective strategies to increase employment opportunities for persons with disabilities.  One key component of our multifaceted initiative is to have the ability to both recognize excellence in the provider community as it relates to providing effective integrated employment opportunities, as well as determine where additional assistance and resources may be needed to assist in this process.  Collection of accurate data relative to the employment of persons within our service roster is paramount to our efforts.

It is with this in mind we are pleased to announce, that this month, we will feature the launch of our Employment Data Collection process.  Providers will be able to enter data beginning on Monday (December 17, 2012) via the Survey Monkey link provided.  Instructions for completion of this process are provided in both the College of Direct Support (CDS) and a PDF format for providers not utilizing the CDS.  There will be three reporting notifications sent to all providers during the course of each month.  Providers will need to have final data for the reporting month entered by the last calendar day of the following month.  For example:  Final data for November 2012 will need to be entered by December 31, 2012 to ensure that it is captured accurately for reporting on the DIDD website in January 2013.  Once collected, data for each reporting agency will be available on the DIDD website for review by all parties wishing to access this information.

DIDD and all of our community and national partners have made competitive, integrated employment a top priority for persons of all ability levels.  Over the course of the coming months, we look forward to partnering with community providers across the state in increasing awareness and training in the most innovative and effective strategies available to further our goal.  This collection of comprehensive employment data will allow us to highlight the successful efforts of our exemplary network of providers statewide.

Survey Monkey Link:

Employment Data Link:


Updates to Provider Claims Processing:  DIDD is continuing to make improvements to its Billing Processes based on the feedback that we have received from the provider community.  On Tuesday morning, December 18, DIDD will put into production an updated version of the Provider Claims Processing (PCP) application.  As mentioned in the previous billing discussions, one of the features that was lost during our billing changes was the ability to view ‘up to the minute’ claims reports.  Because of the move to detailed claims submissions and the increased volume of reporting data, real-time reporting of claims data is not available at this time; however, this updated version will allow for a mid-day refresh of the claims data.  Each day at noon (CT), the database used for reporting will be updated with any claims data that has been entered since the previous refresh at midnight the night before.  This will allow Providers to run reports in the afternoon, which reflect claims data entered that morning.  Information in the footer of the report will show the last data refresh time – noon or midnight (CT).  Please be cognizant of the fact that for a brief time at noon (CT) the database may slow for a few minutes.

The other change to be implemented will be a full rolling 6 weeks in the Current Period.  At this time, the Current Period shows either 5 weeks or 6 weeks.  The new version of PCP will always show a rolling 6 weeks.  Keep in mind that sweeps and billing periods are still two-week segments, so there will be times when one week of a 2 week billing period is the last week of the Current view and the other week of that billing period is the first week in the Late Bills and Adjustments view.  This change eliminates the occasional problem where an entire month is not shown in the Current Period, such as the month of September of this year.  Moving forward, providers should always expect to see a rolling 6-week calendar in the Current Period and a rolling 7 week calendar in the Late Bill and Adjustment Period.  Thanks for your patience and input as we continue to improve these processes.

Increased Claims Processing Frequency:  Together, we are now several months into a process where provider agencies are capable of billing and receiving payment for services rendered every two weeks.  The increased billing and payment frequency process capability was made available by DIDD for the purpose of allowing more rapid payment for services rendered, if providers need or desire earlier payments.  I believe business managers closest to the effects of business decisions know best what works financially for them and therefore it is their choice as to how they bill and therefore receive payment.  Some providers have chosen to adopt a more frequent billing and payment cycle to address cash flow issues that have arisen.  DIDD has made this effort to allow our business partners more options upon which they can choose to make their business decisions, so please take advantage of this option if needed.

Employment Position:  DIDD is seeking to fill a Statewide Director of Human Resources position.  Interested applicants should send their resume to Karen Haynes at Karen.Haynes@tn.gov.  To view the complete job description and a list of qualifications, please visit: http://www.tn.gov/didd/vault/newsroom/announcements/HRDirector.shtml.

Loaned Executive Program:  Don Redden, Executive Director of Developmental Services of Dickson County, recently joined Central Office staff as our third participant in the Loaned Executive Program.  Mr. Redden expressed, “I enjoyed and appreciated the opportunity to spend three days with the department.  It was a chance to see people that we have worked with over the years in their work settings, doing their regular jobs.  It also afforded me a better understanding of the many issues that they deal with day to day.  Over those days, I saw some of the good, the bad, and the ugly and how the department’s dedicated staff addresses challenges that confront them.  I would encourage other community leaders to take advantage of this opportunity.”

Training Accolades:  Congratulations to King’s Daughters and Sons for encouraging their staff to attend the Physical Nutritional Management Training offered by the West TN Regional Office (WTRO).  King’s Daughters and Sons is a skilled nursing facility located in Bartlett, TN.  Mary Brinkley, WTRO Therapeutic Services Department Trainer, in collaboration with Mia Potts, Therapeutic Services Director with King’s Daughters and Sons, worked together to schedule their therapists, nursing staff, and certified nursing assistants through classes offered by WTRO free of charge.  Since July 2012, King’s Daughters and Sons staff have been steadily attending classes.  Eighty-three employees have participated thus far.  They also invited Ms. Brinkley to come to their facility to provide training in Falls: Causes and Preventive Strategies.  Due to the training on Falls Prevention, King’s Daughters and Sons have implemented a Phases Program, in which they encourage residents to walk as they perform their daily activities.  We hope all agencies will continue to take advantage of training opportunities and support staff as they improve their ability to work with all persons supported.

Influenza Follow-Up:  Following my item in last week’s edition about seasonal influenza (“flu”) the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) reported that influenza was widespread in the state and flu vaccines were being made available at no cost.  Influenza like illness is higher both in the West and East regions than the statewide average, according to most recent laboratory data.

To quote from the TDH news item: “We have a supply of flu vaccine available and want to see as many Tennesseans vaccinated as possible to protect the health of those in our state,” said Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. “Getting vaccinated against the flu is the best way to protect your family, friends, coworkers, and yourself from the illness.”

TDH operates health department clinics in 89 of Tennessee’s 95 counties.  Flu vaccine will be provided to both adults and children at no cost to patients until all doses are administered.  Flu vaccine supplies and plans to offer vaccinations will vary from county to county, so individuals are urged to contact their local county health department for information.  A list of Tennessee county health department clinics is available online at:


According to the Harvard Health Blog, in the last month, five children have died from influenza.  Annually, between 3,000 and 50,000 people die in this country from influenza, depending on the severity of influenza in a particular year.
Our department joins with TDH in urging all Tennesseans who have not yet received a flu vaccine to get one now to help protect themselves and those around them [including our more vulnerable persons supported] from the flu virus.