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January 11, 2013

Open Line


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

Notice of Hearing on Motion to Approve Agreed Upon Exit Plan In The Matter of United States of America, et al., v. State of Tennessee, et al. (Civil Action No. 92-2062 M/P)—the Arlington Developmental Center litigation:  On Tuesday, January 15, 2013, at 9:30 a.m. CST in the United States District Court, Western District of Tennessee, Western Division, before Chief Judge Jon Phipps McCalla, in District Courtroom No. 1, 11th floor of the Federal Building, Memphis, Tennessee, the parties will appear and present an Exit Plan and Agreed Order for the Court’s approval.

The Exit Plan addresses, among other things, the potential enrollment of additional class members, the education of class members in nursing homes regarding opportunities to transition to community placements, and new service delivery models.  If you wish additional information about the Exit Plan, a copy of the Exit Plan and Agreed Order is on record with the United States District Court, is posted on the website of the Department of Intellectual and Developmental disabilities at the following location: /didd/vault/vault/newsroom/announcements/Exit%20Plan%20and%20Exhibits.pdf.  Additionally, a copy may be obtained from any one of the attorneys listed below.

If you are, or might be in the Arlington Class, approval of the Exit Plan could affect your rights and/or the services you receive.  The Arlington Class consists of all persons who on or after December 12, 1989, resided at the Arlington Developmental Center; all persons who were transferred from Arlington to other settings such as intermediate care facilities or skilled nursing facilities but remained defendants’ responsibility; and all persons who were at risk of being placed at Arlington Developmental Center.  If the State of Tennessee completes all of its obligations in the Exit Plan, the case will be dismissed.

You are invited to attend the Hearing and express opinions in opposition to or support of the Exit Plan and/or the Agreed Order.  Counsel for Intervenor Plaintiffs People First Of Tennessee (Class Counsel) are: Earle J. Schwarz (901-272-0607); Jack Derryberry (615-244-0554); and Judith Gran (856-354-0061).

Arlington Litigation Update:  On January 10, the United States Department of Justice issued a press release regarding the Arlington Developmental Center litigation.  To read the release in its entirety, please visit http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2013/January/13-crt-038.html.  Governor Bill Haslam stated, “Tennessee is committed to caring for our most vulnerable citizens.  I am optimistic that in the coming days we are on the right track to end decades of litigation around the Arlington Developmental Center in Memphis.  The state appreciates the cooperation of the Department of Justice and People First of Tennessee throughout the settlement process, and I am grateful to the Attorney General’s Office, the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and TennCare Bureau for their tireless efforts in working toward a conclusion to this case.”

HCBS Waiver Provider Payment Delay:  Payments for provider reimbursement claims for services made through December 15, 2012 and swept on January 2, 2013 that were scheduled to be made today will be delayed until Monday, January 14th.  This payment for services made through the middle of the month of December will not affect all providers because many providers have continued billing for services only through the end of the month.  Please read the attached memorandum (PDF) from Assistant Commissioner Lance Iverson detailing the reasons behind this delay in payment.

Job Shadowing Suspended Effective Immediately:  According to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), influenza (flu) activity continues to increase across the country and is widespread in almost all states.  The flu season started earlier than normal and already the number of cases is high in many states, including Tennessee.  The flu virus spreads mainly from person to person through coughing, sneezing, or touching something that has the virus on it.  Avoiding contact with people who are sick helps prevent spreading the virus, along with getting a flu shot and washing your hands, or using an alcohol hand sanitizer frequently.

The people we serve are more vulnerable to influenza complications and therefore, Dr. Cheetham has recommended we put a temporary hold on job shadowing until influenza activity decreases.  Effective immediately, job shadowing is suspended.  I will let you know in Open Line when this important activity will be resumed.
Further information is available on the CDC influenza website at: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm. Avoiding Unnecessary Meetings and Contact:  As an additional item to the suspension on job shadowing today, to reduce the risk of influenza (flu) infection to persons supported, our employees, and their families, I would ask you to consider if meetings and other face-to-face contacts are necessary at this time.  Given the current widespread prevalence of influenza, limiting contacts, and therefore possible exposure, will reduce the risk of getting flu.
Dr. Cheetham has summarized additional information from the CDC.  Typical signs and symptoms of flu include: fever, cough, runny nose, muscle aches, headaches, fatigue, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea.  If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities.  Your fever should be gone without using a fever-reducing medicine.  Healthy adults can infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop, and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick.  That is why reducing meetings and contact with people is helpful.
Influenza virus is spread by droplets when someone coughs or sneezes and these droplets can travel up to 6 feet away.  It also can spread by touching a surface that has the virus and then touching your nose or mouth.  That is why hand washing is so important.  View the three actions you can take to fight the flu at: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/preventing.htm.

Deputy Chief Information Officer:  The department’s Information Systems Division is pleased to announce the hiring of a new Deputy Chief Information Officer, James Prestridge.  James has more than thirty years of experience in the Information Technology field, and has worked for the past six years with the TN Department of Human Services.  His work experience ranges from design and implementation of business solutions to management of Information Systems and Technology Departments, working with Family Assistance Eligibility systems, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, financial applications, and distribution and manufacturing systems.

On a personal note, James also has a son with an intellectual disability who received services from this department in the past, and he has a passion for helping those we serve.  We feel that James will make an excellent addition to DIDD and its Information Systems team.

Fiscal Accountability Reviews:  Please note that when there are questions concerning Fiscal Accountability Reviews (FAR), these should now be directed to the following staff as per specific issue:

For issues following the review regarding the status of distribution of a FAR report or interpretation of specific findings in the final report, please contact Laura Key, Director of FAR, in the Office of Quality Management.  Also, if the current independent financial audit is not available at the time of the on-site FAR review, a copy of the audit should be submitted to Laura within two weeks of the provider’s receipt of it.  Laura may be reached at Laura.Key@tn.gov or 615-651-1253.

Should the provider wish to request a recoupment review of the FAR findings (ORR), that request should be submitted to Pat Nichols, Assistant Commissioner for Quality Management at Pat.Nichols@tn.gov.  Please reference the last page of the FAR report for further specific instructions about submitting an ORR.

Exception Requests:  The Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities is now providing a form which providers may use when requesting an Exception to Administrative Staffing Actions During Active Investigations (DIDD Provider Manual, Chapter 18 “Protection from Harm,” 18.4.c.).  This form can be used when a provider would like a person to continue working while that person is being investigated.  The provider must submit an Exception Request to the DIDD Central Office Director of Protection from Harm or designee.  Please note that Exception Requests are only required for cases involving allegations of physical and/or sexual abuse.  Additionally, if there is an allegation of physical or sexual abuse involved staff must be placed on leave or reassigned duties that do not involve direct care of persons supported until a decision on the exception request is received from DIDD.

The form is provided to assist providers with a more streamlined approach when submitting an Exception Request and is not required.  It is offered as a resource to providers.  A copy of the form can be viewed at the following link:  /didd/vault/vault/protection/resources/Exception%20Request%20Form%20-%20revised%201-15-13.pdf.  A revised Protocol is also available for viewing at:  /didd/vault/vault/protection/resources/Protocol%20-%20Exception%20to%20Admin%20Leave%201-04-13.pdf

Revisions include the addition of the email address for request submissions and updated terminology in current practice.  All Exception Requests and supporting documentation need to be submitted by e-mail to DIDD.Investigation@tn.gov or faxed to (615) 532-9940.

Employment Data Collection Follow-Up:  I want to thank those of you who provided data last month relating to November 2012 employment statistics for persons within your service rosters. Data collection for December 2012 will begin again this month with the first data review taking place on January 11, 2013.  As was indicated in the e-mail you received earlier this week, you will then have the opportunity to review your information previous to the final data entry period.  While many of you were able to access the system and enter your data without issue, we understand that some agencies experienced problems related to the process.  I encourage you to review the instructions for data entry provided for you through the College of Direct Support or through the PDF linked to this edition.  It is of vital importance that we, as a community, are able to provide accurate employment data for persons within our service system.  As previously indicated, this information will be used to provide essential details relating to the number of persons employed and wages earned.  As the department continues to press forward in our Employment First initiative, determining where supplementary supports may be needed, as well as recognizing agencies who demonstrate effective employment supports, will allow us to better target and allocate resources needed to assist in our endeavor.  Ensuring that every person within our service system is provided with an opportunity to realize the benefits of competitive and integrated employment is not just this department’s goal, it’s our duty.

Employment Data Collection Links

Survey Monkey:

PDF Link:

CDS Course Title:
DIDD Employment Data Collection

Statewide Planning and Policy Council: The Statewide Planning and Policy Council, which was created in part to advise the department on policy, budget requests, and developing and evaluating services and supports, has issued its first annual report.  DIDD has sent the report to the Governor and speakers of both the Senate and House.  It is also posted on our website at /didd/vault/vault/PPC/index.shtml.  The department appreciates the efforts of this council and the other four councils working across the state.

Licensure Update:  Our first round of licenses were issued this week and many more are forthcoming as January progresses.  Information Systems and Licensure staff worked closely together and very diligently to make this a reality.  In addition to issuing our first licenses, the “Office of Licensure” page within the department’s website has been updated to include a verification portal at /didd/vault/vault/Licensure/Licensure.shtml.  This allows the general public to check the status of any license that DIDD is responsible for.

Phone Outage:  The phones at the Arlington Campus will have a planned outage on January 17 beginning at 4:00 p.m., lasting for 1 to 2 hours to allow maintenance on their phone system.  Please be aware and make alternate plans as necessary for this date to ensure vital communications can still be accomplished via other modes of communication.  This will impact landline phones only.

Greeneville Focus Group:  The next meeting is January 22 at Greene County Skills in their conference room from 12:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m.  Discussion topics will center on New Year’s resolutions and ways to achieve them.  Please RSVP before January 18 to Chaneth.Quemore@tn.gov at 865-588-0508 or jwinters@thearctn.org  at 423-202-8648 as lunch will be provided.