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December 21, 2012

Open Line


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

Retiring Employees:  Opal Ransom, Quality Assurance Surveyor for the Middle Tennessee Region, is retiring this month.  Opal has made significant contributions to our field in both the private and public sectors.  She began working at Head’s Up early intervention program in Nashville in 1970.  She also worked as a service coordinator for Tennessee Early Intervention System for a few months prior to entering state service as an Intake Case Manager in the Middle Regional Office in 2000.  Opal has been a valued member of the Quality Assurance team since 2004.  Outside of work, Opal enjoys time with her family and is active in church-related activities both locally and nationally.  She looks forward to retirement as an opportunity to both volunteer and take things a day at a time.

Stephen Beaty, Fiscal Director, will retire on December 31 after 36 years of service.  Stephen began his career in the Department of Correction then moved to the Department of Employment Security.  He then proceeded to the Department of Health, where he logged 23 years of extraordinary service.  He joined DIDD 9 years ago.  Stephen plans to visit family after retirement and then decide what his next step will be.  Stephen says he wants to be remembered, but not when there is blame to be placed.

Linda Sharer, ASA 3 for the Policy Division, will retire on January 2, 2013 after 5 years of service to the department.  Prior to joining DIDD, Linda raised her children for 10 years, worked for an interior decorator, and became a licensed insurance agent in Georgia for 10 years.  Linda also worked as a national account manager for a window company in Atlanta.  Linda plans to enjoy retirement with her husband of 43 years, their three children and spouses, and nine grandchildren.

We wish them the best and highly appreciate their dedicated service and contributions to our state.

Director of Incident Management:  The department would like to welcome Mr. Kenneth Binion as the new Director of Incident Management in Central Office.  Mr. Binion has a degree in psychology and brings more than 10 years of management and leadership experience to his new position.  Mr. Binion comes with significant knowledge and experience in tracking, trending, and analyzing data.  During the past five years, he worked in the service delivery field of healthcare supporting older adults.  He is certainly an asset to our team.  He can be contacted at Kenneth.Binion@tn.gov or 615-253-2896 for any information related to reportable incidents or data collection.

Commissioner Correspondence:  In a recent edition, I expressed my desire to respond to all my e-mails within a reasonable time frame.  I receive over 100 e-mails daily.  Every piece of communication is equally important and I would like to give adequate attention to all correspondence.  If a response isn’t received from me within three to four business days, please continue to resend your original e-mail and put “Second Attempt” in the subject line.  I will ensure a response is sent as expediently as possible.

Employment First Leadership State Mentoring Program (EFLSMP):   It is with great excitement that DIDD is able to announce the selection of Orange Grove Center, SRVS, and the Rochelle Center as our participating partners for the second phase of our Employment First Leadership State Mentoring Program. While the selection process was one of great deliberation, these three agencies embodied the experience and commitment to excellence that best aligned with this paramount endeavor.

I was very pleased with the number of agencies interested in participating in this essential and exciting opportunity. This certainly underscores a cooperative desire and commitment to the development of innovative and effective strategies designed to provide integrated, competitive employment opportunities to all persons with a desire to work.

Year two of our grant activities will be inclusive of hands-on technical assistance opportunities provided by some of the most recognized innovators in the areas of Customized Employment, financial conversion of sheltered settings, policy revision and development and refinement of self-advocacy networks. From these consultative sessions, and in conjunction with the skills and techniques currently utilized by the aforementioned providers selected to participate, DIDD looks forward to building a tool-kit of strategies and approaches that will be used to further develop our Day Service delivery system.      

clipEmployment in Action:  Christopher Brandon has been on the waiting list in West Tennessee for six years.  During his wait, Christopher has successfully become a productive citizen in our society.  With assistance from Christopher's case manager, Shellie Liggins, and his mom he has been able to secure a job with AT&T. Christopher has been an employee of AT&T for a year and a half.  He has also been able to move out of his parents’ home and into an apartment with his brother.  On December 5, Memphis Goodwill honored AT&T and Versant Supply Chain during a special half-time presentation at the University of Memphis’ Tigers basketball game.  The businesses were honored with “Business Partner Pillar Awards,” which recognized their partnerships in hiring people who have been trained in Goodwill vocational programs.  Christopher, an AT&T distribution coordinator, received an autographed basketball from U of M round ball great and Memphis Goodwill Board Member, Penny Hardaway in recognition of his work at AT&T.  Congratulations to Christopher and we hope he remembers this special night!

Quality Assurance Checklists:  The 2013 Quality Assurance checklists for all providers are now available on the DIDD website.  As was announced previously, these checklists reflect changes that went into effect during 2012 related to revisions in Protection from Harm and Health Management and Oversight requirements.  Major changes to the checklists are delayed until publication of the new provider manual in 2013.  To view the checklist, please visit: http://www.tn.gov/didd/vault/quality_management/survey_inst.shtml.  Should you have questions, please contact your regional Quality Assurance Director.

Person Centered Organizations:  Person Centered Organizations work continues across the state with coaches and leader meetings held at the three sites, Journeys, Orange Grove Center, and Michael Dunn Center.  Coaches and leaders reported on all changes that have occurred at all three sites as well as changes that are still needed.  Some great stories were shared about listening to persons supported and making level 1 changes that impacted their life in a positive way.  DIDD would like to thank these provider agencies for hosting these sites and for all of their work to learn what supports and services are needed in order for positive systems change to occur.

Person Centered Referrals:   The Person Centered Practice Planning Units are now accepting referrals to assist with support meetings.  This referral process is being established to aid and facilitate meetings using Person Centered Thinking Tools.  A standard referral form and flyer are now available at:


Accreditation Update:  The department’s accreditation teams are in the process of becoming certified to conduct Basic Assurances reviews by observing reviews at various provider agencies across Tennessee.  I would like to thank Emory Valley Center and Omni Visions of Jackson for volunteering to participate in a Basic Assurances review.  Preparing for and participating in these reviews is extremely time consuming, but there has been very positive feedback from everyone participating. 

Licensure Update:  The department’s assumption of licensure responsibilities is even closer to completion than what was noted in the November 30 edition.  This week, the DIDD website has been updated to include an “Office of Licensure” page.  Look for the link on the right of the DIDD homepage at http://www.tn.gov/didd/vault/ under “Agency Services.”

Health and Wellness Council Named:  Thank you to everyone who sent in your information and volunteered to serve on the DIDD Health and Wellness Council.  We had an excellent array of volunteers to choose from and it was a difficult task in selecting only six to be on the council.  The following persons have been named to the state council:

Dennis Beard, Central Office
Kyra Keathley, West TN Regional Office
Sherry Kyker, East TN Regional Office
Missy Marshall, Central Office
Dr. Scott Modell, Central Office
Anne-Marie Speight, Middle TN Resource Center and Community Homes

I believe this new team is a good representation of DIDD staff across the state and I have asked Dr. Modell and Missy Marshall to serve as co-chairs of the council.  Our next step will be to meet with the Governor’s designee who is leading the charge for all state employees to make healthier choices and live healthier lives. 

For all those who expressed interest, please know that there will be other opportunities to be involved.  Your responses showed your enthusiasm for this initiative and we know that we will need many of you to lead the charge at your local level.

Housing Cost Subsidy:  Housing Cost Subsidies have been affected by Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) increases in SSI and SSA, as well as increased Medicare premiums.  The department’s housing cost subsidy policy (80.5.2) covers the process for reporting a change in income and requesting a new Housing Cost Subsidy.

It is very important that this income change in SSI and SSA be reported and a new housing cost subsidy be requested timely.  Many requests for Housing Supplements ended December 31, 2012 in anticipation of new requests for January 2013 income changes.  New requests must be received 30 days prior to the service start date. 

For approvals extending beyond December 2012, updated requests are needed if there are income or expense changes.  To delay, may mean a recoupment and rebill of the monthly amount.  If your agency has not submitted a request to the regional office to change any existing Housing Cost Subsidy because of this increase, please do so. 
Please contact your regional office if additional clarification is needed. 

clipClover Bottom Event:  The people residing at Clover Bottom and the Harold Jordan Center had a special visitor last Friday for the holidays.  Elvis Presley came and sang, danced, took pictures, signed autographs, and had a great time with everyone at Clement Hall.  “Blue Suede Shoes” was a special hit, getting everybody tapping their feet, singing along, or dancing.  My wife, Pat and I participated in the festivities and really enjoyed getting to spend time with persons supported.  

clipCommunity Service:  Late last year, Greene Valley’s long time pastoral volunteer, Rev. Frankie Isley, received the Blanche W. Grady Community Service Award because of his faithfulness in providing spiritual supports to persons who live there.  By winning the Grady Award, Rev. Isley received a grant that could be used to benefit a health care organization and/or an organization for the purpose of health care education.

Rev. Isley began his volunteer service at Greene Valley in 2002 and long dreamed of a piano to use during church services.  Because of his passion for serving persons at Greene Valley, the Foundation allowed him to use the grant to honor those who live in Pinewood Cottage, Rev. Isley’s volunteer site.  A portion of the grant was applied toward the purchase of a full-size Yamaha keyboard, stand, and bench.  It all arrived just in time to celebrate Christmas!  On December 11, Betty Weemes, Executive Director of the Laughlin Health Care Foundation, Rev. Isley, Daniel Christian, and his parents Mr. and Mrs. Harold Christian, along with a few Greene Valley staff celebrated the keyboard’s arrival.  Mrs. Christian played several Christmas hymns while the group sang along.  The keyboard will also be a nice compliment to Rev. Isley’s weekly church services as well as impromptu entertainment for those in Pinewood and their visitors.

The Giving Tree:  During the holidays of 1999, something very special began at Greene Valley.  The Giving Tree is one of its annual community projects and assists the Department of Children’s Services (DCS) in providing Christmas gifts for some Greene County children in its custody.  On Christmas morning, the children realize that “Santa” really knows where they are and that he cared enough to leave gifts underneath their tree.  DCS provides the children’s wish lists and Greene Valley employees make sure that each child has an abundance of presents to open on Christmas morning.  Since the beginning of The Giving Tree, Greene Valley employees have opened up their hearts and wallets to sponsor 772 children who are in foster care.  Twenty-one children were sponsored this year.

clipRinging of the Bell:  In 2000, Greene Valley’s Advisory Council members decided they wanted to do something special for the community during Christmas, so they conducted their first food drive.  Through Christmas 2010, members collected an unbelievable 2 ½ tons of food for the Greene County Food Bank.

After the reduction in force, the Advisory Council decided to forego the food drive, but needed a new project for the food bank.  The Salvation Army bell ringers came to mind so they decided to sponsor Ringing of the Bell.  After all, if it was good enough for the Salvation Army, it was good enough for the Advisory Council.  They were right on the money because $100 was raised for the Greene County Food Bank.  Several members arrived with their bells and Christmas music at five different locations on Greene Valley’s campus to entertain and collect donations toward their project.  Randy (pictured on the right) was all smiles as he jingled the bells awaiting donations from the Administration Building employees.

Billing and Payment Schedule:  Please view updated schedule of Waiver billing and payments (EXCEL).


Please Note: Open Line will not be issued next week.  Best wishes for a safe and happy holiday season with your loved ones.