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March 28, 2013

Open Line

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

Community Visits : During the month of March, my wife Pat had the opportunity to visit several DIDD agencies.  Last week, Susan Moss accompanied Pat on a visit to Journeys in Murfreesboro. They toured the day program, observed persons supported working at an area industry and met with staff. Special thanks to Executive Director Betty McNeely and her staff for their hospitality.
They visited Rochelle Center on Thursday of last week and toured the production center and the facility and had the opportunity to meet with staff, persons supported and Executive Director Debbie Chadwick. Special thanks to Debbie Chadwick and her staff for taking time out of their busy.

This week, Pat visited Knox Co. Arc – Sunshine Industries in Knoxville. She visited with staff and toured the facility.  Special thanks to Judy Wohlwend, Director for opening her doors and extending a warm welcome to Pat. It was a great visit.
Team Long Brothers and Family Supports:  On Monday, March 25 Cayden and Connor Long visited the Tennessee legislature to thank them for their support of the Tennessee Family Support Program. Through the Family Support Program, Connor and Cayden purchased a special cart for Cayden to allow him and his brother to compete in triathlons as a team. Cayden, who has Cerebral Palsy, and Connor have competed in fourteen triathlons together and were named 2012 SportsKids of the Year by Sports Illustrated Kids. The award is presented to kids who show “superior performance on the field, in the classroom and service in the community.” To read more about Team Long Brothers read the SIKids article here (http://www.sikids.com/blogs/2012/11/20/sportskids-of-the-year-conner-and-cayden-long) or visit them on facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Team-Long-Brothers/123824754368780).

Greene Valley Employee of the Year: Greene Valley Developmental Center presented its 2012 Employee of the Year Award to Edna Franklin, manager of the facility’s laundry department last week at a reception in her honor.  When presented with the award Mrs. Franklin replied in typical fashion, “I don’t deserve this.” Diane Brightwell, chief officer, told the group of colleagues and family members in attendance that she did not know of a more deserving person who deserved the award at this time. 

Mrs. Franklin’s long-time supervisor Steve Love, assistant chief officer for administrative services, related that he is personally thankful every day for the good fortune of having Edna Franklin as manager of the laundry department.  Despite the obstacles of fewer staff, outdated equipment, and an antiquated truck, Mrs. Franklin and her staff continue to make sure the job gets done.  It is not uncommon for the laundry staff to reschedule their work days due to inclement weather or holidays to accommodate the needs of the people supported at Greene Valley.  When her staff is working, so is Mrs. Franklin right along beside them. Through the challenges at work and also some personal health challenges, Mrs. Franklin perseveres with a smile that is always on her face. 

Among her gifts for receiving an earlier award of Employee of the Month were several gift cards, and Mrs. Franklin used those to treat the Laundry Department employees to dinner.  After being urged to tell that story, Mrs. Franklin cheerfully replied, “Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do?”

Mrs. Franklin is an 18 year employee at Greene Valley.  She received a plaque, a monetary award from Greene Valley’s Parent Guardian Association, and several gifts donated by area businesses.

Greene Valley ICF/IID Survey: The week of March 18-21 Greene Valley Developmental Center received its annual Intermediate Care Facility for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities (ICF/IID) survey. While the official report has not been received as of yet, the unofficial report indicates that this was the most successful ICF survey that GVDC has had in over 12 years.  Diane Brightwell, Chief Officer of GVDC, expressed how proud she was of the continued teamwork and professionalism shown by the staff of Greene Valley.

Provider Training Compliance:  DIDD is responsible for submitting monthly data to TennCare concerning compliance with a number of performance measures related to the overall quality of services in the three waiver programs.  One measure that we report is our verification that provider training is conducted in accordance with state requirements and the approved waiver.  We obtain this information via the audit of provider training that is a part of the provider annual quality assurance survey.  CMS considers this area to be an important one in determining the quality of our services.  Any percentage of compliance that falls below 86% in a given month must be addressed as a systemic issue by DIDD.

Historically, the training measure has been challenging for providers to meet.  In February 2013, the compliance level for this measure slipped to 82% for the statewide waiver.  This means that training for staff was below expectations for that month.  It is important that all staff receive the required competency-based training for their position in a timely manner.  Please be reminded that compliance with training requirements has been and continues to be a critical area for waiver services.  We appreciate your attention to this issue.

Parks and Recreation:  There is an exciting new opportunity for partnership between the Upper East DIDD Providers, the Parks and Recreation Departments of Morristown and the Counties of Cocke, Grainger, Greene, Hawkins, and Jefferson. The partnership conversation begins at 10 a.m., April 18, 2013 at the Morristown Parks and Recreation Department. The Parks and Recreation Departments are very excited to partner with DIDD to discuss and develop great activities to further assist people in becoming a part of their communities. To register for this event or ask questions, please contact the East Region Day Service Coordinator, Tina Favazza-Rachael, at 865-588-0508 x163, or at Tina.Rachael@tn.gov.

Relias/Essential Learning web training system “Go Live” date extended:  This week we met with representatives of TNCO to discuss the transition to the Relias/Essential learning web training system.  There has been concern expressed about the go live date of April 1, 2013 for new hires.  As we said in last week’s Open Line, that date is now considered optional, and that the May 1, 2013 will be the required date for enrolling all new hires in the new Relias/Essential Learning web training system.  Agencies requested that the initial April 1 date be extended to at least the week after the kick off meetings during the week of April 15-19.  Next week look for announcements of time and location for the meeting in each region.  We continue to meet with agency representatives to review curriculum and create the cross walk lists of required training for staff.  We are very pleased with the large selection of courses available and encourage all agency trainers to review courses and give us continued input.  Next week’s training webinars are going to be Question & Answer Sessions and are scheduled the following dates and times:
Monday 4/1 -- 9 AM Central, 10 AM Eastern
Monday 4/1 --  1 PM Central and 2 PM Eastern
Wed 4/3 -- 12 noon Central, 1 PM Eastern
Friday 4/5 -- 9 AM Central, 10 AM Eastern

Smart Feelings and Social Sense : The West Tennessee Resource Center has added two innovative therapeutic groups to assist persons served in addressing Aristotle’s Challenge: Anyone can become angry-that is easy; but to be angry with the right person, to the right degree at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way-this is not easy. The Resource Center has introduced the Smart Feelings and Social Sense groups focused on Social and Emotional Intelligence building. In these groups the participants explore their feelings but also capture skills that are portable to real life circumstances. The format is an eight week curriculum to improve the labeling of emotions, tolerance for uncomfortable feelings, and self calming techniques. Open discussion, Brain Gym Exercises, and expressive techniques are used to promote learning. We believe that these groups will give participants new and effective ways to cope with daily life challenges.

For additional information, please contact J. Stephen Bell, Ph.D., M.S.A., Director of Psychology, West Tennessee Resource Center, at (901) 745-7442, StephenJohn.Bell@tn.gov or Bonnie Barakat-Smith, Licensed Senior Psychological Examiner, West Tennessee Resource Center, at (901) 745-7349, Bonnie.Barakat-Smith@tn.gov.

clipCentral Office Human Resources Visits Greene Valley: On March 22, Greene Valley Developmental Center welcomed  Karen Haynes and Sherrie Artman as they met with the Leadership Team and Human Resources staff.  Karen was also surprised with a small retirement reception, even though her actual retirement date continues to be a moving target.  Many humorous and heartfelt stories were shared with the group, as were promises to keep in touch.  Best wishes to Karen upon her retirement, and to Sherrie, “Welcome to the Department!”

Legislative Update:  The following are a few of the bills introduced during this legislative session impacting DIDD:

HB 0531 by *Powers ( SB 0675 by *Yager)
Disabled Persons - As introduced, enacts "Lynn's Law" and defines abuse or neglect of an adult to include a caretaker who knowingly abandons an adult if the caretaker knows the adult is unable to care for himself without assistance.
Placed on the House Civil Justice Committee Calendar for 4/3/2013
Placed on Senate Judiciary Committee calendar for 4/2/2013

HB 1097 by *Floyd ( SB 1223 by *Watson)
Hospitals and Health Care Facilities - As introduced, authorizes certain ICF/MR beds to be filled with persons from department of intellectual and developmental disabilities' waiting list after the death of persons occupying the bed who came from a developmental center. An amendment was placed on the bill that requires DIDD to establish a process to determine who from the waiting list will go into the private ICF beds once they become available.
Placed on House Regular Calendar for 4/4/2013
Referred to the Senate Floor Calendar for 4/1/2013

HB 0692 by *Farmer ( SB 0555 by *Overbey)
Guardians and Conservators - As introduced, revises various provisions relative to court appointed guardians and conservators. 
Under the bill uniform procedures would be established for placing someone in a conservatorship on an emergency basis. A person being placed under the emergency rules would have to be notified within 48 hours of the action and a hearing would have to take place within five days. The Tennessee Bar Association recommended the changes after a series of statewide hearings.
Placed on House Civil Justice Committee Calendar for 4/3/2013
Passed the Senate on 3/25/2013

Licensure Update:  Please note that additional DIDD specific licensure forms have been finalized.  These forms and other Licensure information can be found on the DIDD website at: http://www.tn.gov/didd/vault/Licensure/Licensure.shtml