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May 3, 2013

Open Line


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

Greene Valley and East Tennessee Community Homes:On Wednesday, I visited with leadership staff from Greene Valley and the East Tennessee Community Homes (ETCH). Accompanying me, were Deputy Commissioner Debbie Payne and several other members of Central Office. 

Debbie and I spoke with Greene Valley and ETCH leadership, acknowledging their survey results and comments received by various surveying entities over the past year and a half.   This was the first QRP survey in over seven years and it went extremely well with positive comments regarding services, attitudes, and progress at GVDC.    In addition, fiscal audits have been positive, efforts to reduce and maintain overtime at low rates have been effective, and they are on track to finish the year with the budget in a positive state.  Congratulations to GVDC and ETCH for their superb performances on the QRP survey.  Special thanks to Diane Brightwell, Chief Officer of GVDC; John Craven, East Tennessee Regional Director; Margi Story, Director of East Tennessee Community Homes; and the leadership and staff of Greene Valley and the East Tennessee Community Homes for your unwavering dedication to persons supported.

clipLater, we toured a community home accompanied by the Greeneville Sun. I spoke with Marilyn Leinart (pictured at the right) who lives in one of the homes.  She is communicating with me using her eye gaze communication device called a Dynavox.  This new device allows Marilyn to point at icons on a screen with her eyes and a computer speaks the word associated with the icon. Once Marilyn learns to use the device, she will be able to speak to others and express her needs.  Speech therapist, Peggy Garland stated, "Once I took the device to Marilyn she was so excited, she didn't want me to take it away long enough to program the words.”  Marilyn shared with me that she loves her home and it is the best thing that ever happened to her.  We thoroughly enjoyed our visit and the time spent with everyone at the home.  Thank you Christina Weems, Gail Wilder, Jodi Collins, Tamie Saylor, and Margi Story for your warm reception and coordinating the visit.

Senior Assistant General Counsel:  The department would like to welcome Richard Prybilla to Central Office as the Senior Assistant General Counsel. Richard comes to us from the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS), where he served as the Assistant General Counsel at Middle Tennessee Mental Health Institute.  Prior to working at TDMHSAS, Richard was in the private practice of law.  Please join us in welcoming Richard to DIDD.

Transition NOW Update:  The Transition NOW Team continues to work with the 87 at-risk class members currently residing in nursing homes in West Tennessee.  A primary focus of the team is to monitor the quality of life and quality of care for all class members in nursing homes.  Many efforts are underway to continue to educate and inform the class members and their families/legal decision makers regarding options available in community living as an alternative to the nursing home.   At present, there is one class member in the active transition process.  The Arlington Exit Plan requires a committee that reviews each person’s needs in order to make a professional determination about residential placement.  If recommended for community placement, the person and their legal decision maker will be assigned an Independent Support Coordinator to assist them in learning more about community options should they so choose.

In addition to work with class members residing in nursing homes, the Transition NOW Team is also working on transitions of at-risk class members residing in ICF/IID programs who have expressed an interest in home and community based services.

Aligning the Sweep with the Period in PCP:  As mentioned in previous editions, the Offices of Business Services and Information Systems 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.  We do not anticipate any changes in the sweep schedule or the payment process. All changes will happen in the background and will result in a single, one-time “one-week” report period and billing period on the Report Pull Down menu.

The dates of this “one-week” report and billing period will be service dates of 04/28/2013 – 05/04/2013. Then, we will return to our regular two-week period reporting format. We will continue to keep you informed of this alignment.

DIDD Training Update:  Relias Learning is now available to train new hires. Some trainers who used it this week for new hires were very pleased with the auto-enroll by job title “one click” process. There is also a “Welcome To” class for all learners that is automatically assigned to all new hires and is a prerequisite to taking any courses assigned or self-enrolled. Supervisors identified on the bulk download sheets will also be automatically assigned a “Welcome To” for the supervisors introductory course.  Relias conducted Q & A webinars on the bulk download sheets this week that went well.  Questions and answers were recorded and will be posted as a resource on our DIDD web site as soon as the video is received from Relias.  This week, around 40 bulk load spreadsheets have been received by Relias and are being reviewed, so we seem to be on track with those.  Our internet site will have Relias Training resources and the newest Move forms, as well as a training video on how to enroll learners next week.

The following webinars are scheduled for more live Q & A on the Bulk Download Sheets next week:

Wednesday, May 8:  2:00 PM Eastern, 1:00 PM Central
Friday, May 10:  10:00 AM Eastern, 9:00 AM Central

As we near the end of the contract with the College of Direct Support, we will stop taking any requests for Shares and Manager Zone Removals on Friday, May 17.  The last day for agency staff and administrators to work in the CDS system will be Friday, June 21 in order for final data sweeps and downloads to happen the last week of June.  After final downloads come from CDS, it will take a few weeks before historical data is available in Essential Learning, so your patience with this transition process is appreciated. Please remember the last day CDS will be available to all agencies and staff is Friday, June 21 unless your agency has its own contract with the College of Direct Support.

Vanderbilt Next Steps:  On April 24, Vanderbilt Next Steps held its graduation celebration.  Among the speakers was Crystal Finley, a Vanderbilt student who served for the past 3 years as peer mentor to students in the Next Steps program.   I invite you to view her inspiring speech here and see why Crystal will be among the many emerging leaders in our field. She graduates this month with a degree in Special Education and will begin a Master’s program in the fall.  Congratulations to the Vanderbilt Class of 2013!

Family Support Program:  Since its inception in 1992, the Family Support Program (FSP) has helped persons with severe and developmental disabilities and their families to remain in their homes and communities.  This year, Governor Haslam’s budget allocated $7,383,600 fully to fund the program with recurring money for next year.  The Family Support Program contacts families annually to obtain feedback regarding program satisfaction. One of the questions asks families to share their comments with legislators and Sue Lowery, parent of a person receiving FSP funds, recently expressed her support and appreciation of the program.

In July of 2011, Ms. Lowery’s son was able to realize his life-long dream of moving into a one-bedroom apartment.  In addition, he also obtained a full-time job at Erlanger Medical System and no longer receives SSDI assistance because he wanted to work full-time and was willing to cut his income almost in half to get off assistance.

Ms. Lowery stated, “Without the supervision, the motivation and organizing and prompting of the wonderful support people he gets through Family Support, he would still be living at home, with no job, because we live in the county and there is no bus service.  The most important part of his life is in place-he is independent! How can you ask for a better goal, a better outcome than that?”

She concluded, “So to all the legislators, I would like to say a big ‘thank you.’ I work full-time at my own job and none of my son’s independence would be possible without Family Support.”

EPPC Appointment:  I am pleased to appoint Ms. Janice Brazier, RN, CCM, CDDN of Volunteer State Help Plan (VSHP), a subsidiary of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee to serve on the East Planning and Policy Council (EPPC) as an other affected organization representative.  Ms. Brazier has a significant amount of experience in the training, oversight, and medical field as it relates to persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  She currently is a manager for the East Grand Region for the SelectCommunity Case Management Program.  I appreciate Ms. Brazier volunteering to serve and providing insight from both her professional and personal experiences.

Direct Support Professionals Association of Tennessee (DSPAT):  Barbara Woods, Home Manager with the West Tennessee Community Homes (Schaffer),  has  been  selected as a  recipient of the DSPAT Above and Beyond Award!   The  Awards Banquet will be held during the Tennessee Disability MegaConference on Friday, May 31 at 6:00 p.m. in the Cumberland Ballroom at the Nashville Airport Marriott on 600 Marriott Drive. Please join me in congratulating Barbara on this outstanding accomplishment.