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March 15, 2013

Open Line

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

Direct Support Professional Job Shadowing Resumed:  On January 11, I suspended job shadowing because of widespread influenza nationwide.  Dr. Cheetham reported to me that in fact, it has been a worse than usual season, and provided some graphs to illustrate.  The number of deaths in selected cities across the country from influenza and pneumonia, shown in red on the graph at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/weeklyarchives2012-2013/bigpi09.htm, is a spike well above epidemic level (the baseline level of deaths is the bottom black line, and the epidemic level is given on the upper black line). Pediatric influenza associated deaths are shown in the following graph: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/weeklyarchives2012-2013/IPD09.htm.  Visits to providers due to influenza-like illness are shown in red for the current season compared to other flu seasons, and can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/weeklyarchives2012-2013/picILI09.htm.  Looking at Tennessee in particular, the graph at the top of the second page at http://health.state.tn.us/Downloads/week06ILI_spnreport_2013.pdf shows outpatient visits for influenza-like illness is well below the country as a whole.

As you can see from the graphs, influenza activity has dropped significantly, and is now at baseline levels.  Therefore, I’m resuming job shadowing effective immediately.  The deadline for employees to complete this requirement is June 28, 2013.  If you already completed your shadowing assignment from November 2012 up until the suspension, you are not required to do it again unless specifically requested.  If you have any questions or need information on participating providers, please contact Margaret Donald at Margaret.P.Donald@tn.gov.

DIDD Prepares to Welcome Employment First National Leaders:  The department’s Employment First initiative continues to move forward with system change efforts in eager anticipation of the arrival of Subject Matter Experts Lisa Mills, Nancy Gurney, and Michael Callahan.  As was indicated in recent editions, over the next several months the department will host some of the most innovative and effective leaders in the National Employment First movement.  Sessions will begin with Nancy Gurney who will be holding initial meetings with the Orange Grove Center, Rochelle Center, and SRVS the week of April 15, 2013.  These meetings will be introductory brainstorming sessions related to effective fiscal conversion strategies designed to better include competitive and integrated employment options as a viable and sustaining funding stream.  Department representatives from both the Central and Regional offices will participate alongside provider agency executive staff in identifying the most effective funding strategies available to assist in this fiscal conversion process.

Following the initial consultation efforts of Ms. Gurney, will be the arrival of nationally renowned Supported Employment expert, Dr. Lisa Mills.  Dr. Mills is an instrumental figure in the development and implementation of effective strategies promoting competitive and integrated employment and her work is represented in the achievements of states across the nation. Dr. Mills will be joining key members of DIDD, the Departments of Education, Vocational Rehabilitation, Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Labor and Workforce Development, as well as stakeholders from the DD Council, Bureau of TennCare, and Vanderbilt University, on May 30 and 31, 2013.  She will assist in key policy discussions aimed at continuing our efforts to bring employment opportunities to all Tennesseans with disabilities, mental illnesses, or substance abuse disorders.

Finally, the department is proud to announce the arrival of Michael Callahan.  During June-September 2013, Michael will be meeting with stakeholder groups from across the state.  Michael is a key developer and author of the Discovery model approach to job development and one of the foremost authorities in the field of Customized Employment.  Michael will work directly with members of the Central and Regional Office staff, as well as key members of the three participating provider agencies in the development of skills within the concept of Customized Employment.  Sessions will include introductory, intermediate, and advanced applications of this nationally recognized and validated approach to assisting persons with extreme challenges in achieving the goal of integrated and competitive employment.  In addition, Michael will be working with department staff to better identify and intertwine the principles of Discovery into DIDD policy and provider programming.

Over the course of the last several months, our department has begun to see the preliminary gains in our Employment First agenda.  Persons supported, agencies, department staff, families, and advocacy groups have all joined in the movement.  Support for the efforts of all concerned stakeholders is building and the momentum of this wave is beginning to push waters far ahead.  I would like to commend those who have already joined and encourage those of you still watching to get involved.  The actions we take today have the potential to directly and positively affect the services offered to all in the future.  I look forward to reporting on your success.     

DIDD Policies:   The following policies have been approved and published on the DIDD website at http://www.tn.gov/didd/vault/provider_agencies/policies.shtml:

  • Authorization of Services (80.3.4)
  • Sanctions (80.4.6)
  • Individual Support Planning Process-ICF/IID (100.1.8)
  • Complaint Resolution-ICF/IID (100.1.18)

Tennessee Government Management Institute:  It is time to nominate one or two DIDD staff to participate in the 2013 leadership program, Tennessee Government Management Institute (TGMI).  Information on TGMI and the application can be viewed on the department’s Intranet page at http://intranet.tn.gov/didd/vault/.  Please review the materials and submit the application to Diana Davis in my office, at Diana.Davis@tn.gov before March 20.  I am proud to offer this opportunity to the dedicated employees of DIDD.

An Ounce of Prevention:  For this issue, we are shifting focus from a provider community responsibility to one which applies to DIDD employees, specifically supervisors of DIDD employees.  The department recently issued policy 40.1.2, Employee Network and Computer Access.  Among other things, this policy lays out the steps to be followed whenever an employee’s access to the network needs to be added, deleted, or changed.  Supervisors need to review and begin implementing this policy immediately as Information Systems, Risk Management and Licensure staff will be conducting internal assessments to verify if the new processes are being correctly followed.  The policy is available on DIDD’s Intranet page under the “Policies and Forms” link.

Resolution of FAR Findings:  As a reminder, when providers have findings with accompanying questioned costs from their FAR reviews, they are notified in the initial report of these and given 15 business days to request an Opportunity for Recoupment Review (ORR).  If DIDD does not receive a timely ORR request, then DIDD proceeds to send the provider a resolution letter.  This letter contains instructions for how to affect the recoupment from the questioned costs via submission of rebills.  The provider is given 30 days to submit to the Regional Office the rebill paperwork that will close out the FAR monetary findings.  It is important for the provider to note and follow the time line for completion of the rebilling submission.  Should you have questions about this process, please contact Laura Key, FAR Director, at Laura.Key@tn.gov  or 615-651-1253.

DIDD Training Update:  This week, Relias/Essential Learning has been conducting webinar training for training administrators.  We encourage agencies to take advantage of these live webinars.  There is a recorded version available on the customer service link supplied in last week’s edition, which is accessible at any time.  Next week, a live training webinar will be offered once again on March 19 at 12:30 p.m. CST/1:30 p.m. EST.  We will then start offering a second webinar training covering the bulk download step of the transition process.  Please see next week’s training schedule below:

March 19: 1:30 PM EST/12:30 PM CST: Hierarchy Creation & Maintenance, Supervisor/Learner Overview (a repeat of this week’s webinar)

March 20: 12:00 PM EST/11:00 AM CST: Bulk Load/User Demographic Review, Hierarchy Q&A
March 21: 10:00 AM EST/9:00 AM CST: Bulk Load/User Demographic Review, Hierarchy Q&A

March 22: 2:00 PM EST/1:00 PM CST: Bulk Load/User Demographic Review, Hierarchy Q&A

Webinar links will be sent to training administrators from the Regional Offices.  

New Executive Director:  The Board of Neighborhood Network recently announced that Julie Vest has now been appointed Executive Director.  Ms. Vest can be reached at julie.vest@neighbor-network.com. Please update your contact information as appropriate.

Tennessee Adult Brothers and Sisters Conference: The 2013 Tennessee Adult Brothers and Sisters (TABS) Conference will be held April 5-6, 2013, at the Holiday Inn-Vanderbilt, located at 2613 West End Ave., Nashville.  The conference is open to adult siblings who have a brother or sister with a disability, siblings-in-law, cousins, and professionals interested in sibling issues.  Keynote speaker for the conference is Scott Modell, Ph.D., DIDD Deputy Commissioner, Office of Policy & Innovation, and a sibling to a person with a disability.  Closing the conference will be Nancy Webster, President, The Arc U.S., a member of The Arc's National Sibling Council, and a sibling to a person with a disability.

Breakout session topics will include "Laughter Yoga," "Mental Health Services," "Having the Difficult Discussion," "Financial Planning," and "Spirituality."

Additional information regarding registration can be viewed on the DIDD website at http://www.tn.gov/didd/vault/newsroom/announcements/TABS_2013.shtml.  Please register by March 30.

Project Titan Regional Kick-Off Meetings:  A recording of the Titan Kickoff meetings from the Middle Region that took place on March 5 have been uploaded to DIDD’s website.  There are two recordings; one from the Regional Staff meeting that took place in the morning, and one from the Provider meeting that took place in the afternoon.  You can find these recordings at /didd/vault/vault/TITAN/TITAN.shtml.

Again, we want to thank everyone that participated in the meetings from each of the regions.  We look forward to sharing additional information as the project moves forward.  If you have any additional questions or comments, or if you would like for us to arrange a follow-up meeting, please contact us at DIDD.Titan@tn.gov.
We will also be compiling a list of questions and answers from each of the meetings, which we will add to a Frequently Asked Questions document on the website.  We hope to have this completed within the next two weeks.

National Nutrition Month:  March is National Nutrition Month.  Persons with disabilities have been reported to have a higher incidence of obesity and lower rates of physical activity.  A healthful eating plan can help persons with disabilities to attain and maintain a healthy weight and prevent health issues such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.  Training and supports are available through the Regional Offices to assist agencies and persons in meeting their nutritional needs. 

Join the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics during March in celebrating National Nutrition Month®.  This year’s National Nutrition Month theme is “Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day” and encourages consumers to develop a healthful eating plan that incorporates individual food choices and preferences.  For more information, please visit http://www.eatright.org/nnm/.