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April 19, 2013

Open Line

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

Director of Project Management: Please welcome Jennifer Pfeiffer as the incoming Director of Project Management in Central Office.  Jennifer will be replacing Diana Davis, who is leaving to devote more time to her family business.  Jennifer most recently spent 13 years in Chicago in the hospitality and tourism industry working in publishing, public relations, advertising, sales, events, and marketing.  Prior to moving to Chicago in 2000, Jennifer began her career in state government and worked for the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development as Director of Advertising & Special Events, Southeast US/Japan and Korea Delegate Coordinator, as well as Legislative Liaison.  Jennifer is a graduate of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and is a native of Maryville, TN.

On behalf of the department, we will greatly miss Diana and appreciate her years of service and dedication.  We wish her nothing but the best in her future endeavors.

clipCommunity Visit:   This week, my wife Pat visited Emory Valley Center and met with staff and persons supported.  Jennifer Enderson, President of Emory Valley Center, began the visit by discussing the history of the center (in existence since 1955) and the different services the center provides for both children and adults with disabilities.  They toured the Work Training Center where Pat and her mother Millie had the opportunity to see everyone working on different contracts.  After, they visited a classroom in the adult program where persons were making windmills to hang from the ceiling.  She also had the opportunity to tour a classroom in the Early Learning Center where children were actively listening to a story.  The tour ended in Emory Valley’s CHOICES program classroom, where Pat and Millie were able to view some incredible artwork from one of the persons who attends the program.  After the tour, about 25 staff and persons supported met in the training room to hear stories from Pat. 

Ms. Enderson noted, “Everyone was very touched by Pat's stories and was so appreciative of the time she spent with us.”  Special thanks to Ms. Enderson and Emory Valley staff for their warm reception and hosting the day’s events.

Madison-Haywood Developmental Services Spring Banquet:  Last week, the Madison-Haywood Developmental Services Spring Banquet was held in Jackson, Tennessee where there were over 1,300 persons supported in attendance. Sports teams from Union University, Jackson Community College, and Liberty Technology Magnet High School were also in attendance to enjoy dinner and dancing. The department’s Deputy Commissioner, Dr. Scott Modell, and Director of Safety Systems, Noel Hengelbrok were also in attendance to present awards to several persons supported.

Dr. Modell stated, “We were very happy to attend on behalf of the department. It was a wonderful event and a great opportunity to spend some time with the people we support in a fun and exciting atmosphere.”  DIDD Four and Three Star Awards Recognition:  The DIDD Four and Three Stars Awards recognition program was established several years ago to recognize providers with high levels of performance, as evidenced in various reviews conducted by DIDD and external sources.

Specific criteria were developed for each type of award.  These criteria address levels of provider performance in Qualify Assurance surveys, investigation substantiation rates, circumstances surrounding deaths, and other external reviews that are conducted for providers.

When a provider receives one of these awards, it receives a certificate of recognition from my office, and DIDD reduces its level of oversight monitoring for the next review period.

Over the past several months, DIDD has been examining this recognition program to ensure that its criteria are current and reflective of best practices in our field.  This examination has included gathering input from several sources, both internal and external to the department.  Using this input, DIDD is moving toward a re-engineering of the program via adaptations in the criteria.  A number of ideas are being considered, including adding an emphasis on the following:

  • Provision of employment services that focus on the person’s desire to work.
  • Compliance with staff qualifications and training requirements.
  • Appropriate use of rights restrictions and restraints.
  • Effective medication administration management.
  • Sound management and protection of personal funds
  • Sanctions and recoupment activity.

Further information about adjustments in the stars recognition program will be forthcoming in the near future.

Provider Claims Processing (PCP):  The DIDD Business Services and Information Systems division are working together to get the two week billing period in line with the sweep dates. We expect to have this completed by the end of May 2013. To get this aligned, it will result in our creating a single one-time “one week” calendar in PCP and then we will return to our regular two-week calendar format. We do not anticipate a change in the sweep schedule. More details and dates will be given in Open Line in the next few weeks.

Middle Tennessee Community Homes Progress:  Recently, DIDD selected the last three remaining sites for the ICF/IID homes of the nine planned in Middle Tennessee to be state-operated.  The notice to proceed was issued to the designers this week to begin the project.  Each home will consist of four bedrooms and a total living space of 2,800 square feet.     

Supports Intensity Scale Reports:   Ascend Management Innovations has arranged to send Supports Intensity Scale (SIS) reports to agencies by way of secure email.  You can request that future reports be sent to your agency’s contact person via secure email by sending an email address to Holly Wood at Ascend Management Innovations, hwood@ascendami.com, or 615-312-1465, or toll free at 877-431-1388, extension 3334.

DIDD Dispute/Conflict Resolution Training:  The WTRO Operations Unit staff, under the directorship of Tori K. Lindsey, RN, participated in a 6-hour Dispute/Conflict Resolution training at the Arlington Developmental Center on April 10. The training was conducted by Dr. Michael Mailahn, Customer Focused Services Coordinator, Title VII Investigator, and Rule 31 Mediator.

This training is now available to DIDD staff, providers, and ISC agencies upon request. For scheduling information, please contact Dr. Vickey Coleman, Director of Customer Focused Services at 901-356-6324.

Heat-Related Illness: The DIDD Nurse Educators provided the following item to include as a seasonal reminder for us all. As summer approaches, even short periods of high temperatures can cause serious health problems, particularly for persons supported. Air conditioning is the number one protective factor against heat-related illness and death. Other precautions during hot days include limiting outdoor activity to morning and evening hours; drinking more fluids (avoid very cold drinks, caffeine and large amounts of sugar); rest in shady areas; wear lightweight, light colored, loose fitting clothes; wear a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen (referred to in Open Line, August 31, 2012); always be aware of potential side effects of medications; ensure that vehicles are cooled prior to transportation, and never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle.

Hyperthermia occurs when the body is unable to compensate and cool itself, causing body temperature to rise rapidly. Persons with medical conditions, persons taking multiple medications, and persons with limited cognitive skills are much more likely to suffer hyperthermia. Observe for symptoms such as headache, dizziness, nausea/vomiting, weakness, confusion, fainting, and unconsciousness. Hyperthermia can be a serious medical emergency that can lead to death. Seek medical attention if you are concerned a person supported may have hyperthermia.

Remember the best defense against heat-related illness is prevention. Stay cool, ensure adequate fluid intake and make simple changes in activities, air conditioning, and clothing during hot weather to promote health and safety during summer weather.

Disability Law and Advocacy Center (DLAC):  On April 11, several members of the Disability Law and Advocacy Center of Tennessee visited Greene Valley Developmental Center.  Renee Thompson, GVDC Advocate, introduced the group to many of the folks that call Greene Valley home and visited with staff in several of the homes, as well as the Learning Tree and Quality Products Work Center.  

Lisa Primm, new Executive Director of the Disability Law & Advocacy Center, said “The staff/resident interactions I observed at Greene Valley today were extraordinary.  I witnessed employees caring for residents in a way that everyone would want their most beloved family members to be cared for.  The facility was sparkling and the residents were receiving individual attention by the caregivers.  In a time where access to appropriate, quality healthcare can be challenging, this was an uplifting day.” 

Joining Ms. Primm were Anna Bass, Regional Manager and Zach Harris, DLAC Advocate.

clipGreene Valley Outreach:  David Greineder, Greene Valley’s Director of Nursing, spoke recently with students in the Health Sciences class at the Greene Technology Center, an educational facility that serves high school students from the Greeneville City and Greene County school systems.  The class concentrates on Anatomy & Physiology, EMA, Forensics, and Nursing Education.

Greineder’s audience was students who are exploring possibilities and also those who are committed to a career in the health care field.   The students indicated very little knowledge about the persons who live at Greene Valley nor the facility.  The speaking engagement served several purposes, including educating young adults about people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and the services and supports in place enabling them to have a fulfilling life, in addition to the health care career opportunities in the DIDD field.   

In reflecting on his time with the Health Sciences students, Greineder said, “It was a great opportunity to present the unique benefits, challenges, and opportunities available in the specialty of providing health care services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”