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July 5, 2013

Open Line

July 5, 2013

I hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday.  This week’s edition includes important information I want to share with you:

DIDD Central Office Reorganization:  As I’ve transitioned into my role as Commissioner, I have given lots of thought to the structure of our department and how we can most effectively and efficiently operate to achieve our goals and promote positive change throughout the State of Tennessee. Effective immediately, I am implementing the following organizational structure:

Jordan Allen will succeed me as Deputy Commissioner of Program Operations.  Jordan’s persistence and continued commitment to our mission, make him the perfect candidate for this position. Program Operations will continue to oversee the Regional Offices, Developmental Centers, Community Homes and Central Office operations, including Provider & Staff Development, Provider Supports & Services and Intake.

Julie Ferrara will assist Jordan Allen as Deputy Director of Program Operations.  Julie’s passion for the people we support,  her vast knowledge of services and supports, as well as background in the intellectual and developmental disabilities field will continue to make her a much-needed asset to this department.

Lance Iverson will be our Deputy Commissioner of Fiscal & Administration.  He will continue to manage all of his previous areas, but will now also be our Project Titan Executive Sponsor and oversee our Information Systems division.

Laura Doutre will assume responsibility for policy and Medicaid Waiver development as the Assistant Commissioner of Policy & Innovation.  She will continue to guide and direct the accreditation process and in her new capacity will be better able to incorporate best practices in all that we do.

Theresa Sloan as Assistant Commissioner & General Counsel, will continue to oversee our legal department and will also now be responsible for our Protection from Harm system, which includes incident management and investigations.

Pat Nichols will remain as the Assistant Commissioner of Quality Management.  Pat’s many years of experience, expertise, and dedicated service are critical to the department’s success. Her knowledge is invaluable.

Dr. Tom Cheetham will remain as the Director of the Office of Health Services.  With over 30 years of experience serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, his role will be instrumental in ensuring that persons supported experience optimal health for improved quality of lives.

Sherrie Artman will continue in her role as the Director of Human Resources.  Sherrie’s organizational skills, business sense, and attention to detail will be needed to effectively support the department’s  employees.

Lee Vestal as Director of Risk Management and Licensure, will continue to oversee statewide licensure of DIDD facilities and risk management operations to include provider agency audits.  Lee’s extensive knowledge of our service delivery system and department will continue to serve us well.

I would like to thank the countless number of staff who do their job without fail day in and day out. Without the support and dedication of an entire team, DIDD could not support all Tennesseans with intellectual and developmental disabilities to live fulfilling and rewarding lives.

Employment First Executive Order:  On June 19, Governor Haslam issued an Executive Order establishing state support for the Employment First initiative which involves state interagency collaboration and the department’s key stakeholders.  As a result, I am proud to announce DIDD will convene an Employment First Task Force to focus on employment opportunities for persons with disabilities on August 1.  Earlier this week, DIDD issued a press release on the Employment First Executive Order.  To view the complete release, click here.   

Family Caregiver Reimbursement:  This week, memorandum #181 was issued to all Home and Community-Based Waiver Service providers outlining the deadline for implementation of a 40 hour per week limit on family caregiver reimbursement in approved waiver amendments.  If you did not receive a copy of the memo, it is attached to this edition for your reference.

Employment Update:  The department’s Subject Matter Expert, Nancy Gurney met with staff at the Rochelle Center on July 1-July 2.  Some important topics discussed which are vital components needed for successful transformation from sheltered workshop settings are budgets, job descriptions, funding challenges, a letter of understanding with Vocational Rehabilitation (VR), training, and baseline data. Additional topics that are equally important are identifying barriers and how to overcome them, communication with all parties involved and how to properly tie in all components for change. A couple of representatives from VR and the Department of Labor and Workforce Development were also present to assist with questions pertaining to each specific area such as referrals and the process of becoming an Employment Network to begin accepting the Ticket to Work. This collaboration clearly indicates the high level of involvement on behalf of several state departments which will be needed for upcoming changes. 

Family Support Program Recognition:  Sarah Harvey began her early career as the Family Support Coordinator for Madison Haywood Developmental Center. She left the position in 2006 and has served on the Family Support State Council since 2007.  In 2012, she was appointed as Chair of the State Council. 

Sarah recently moved from Jackson to Hendersonville, Tennessee and  had to step down as the West Tennessee District Council 8 representative on the State Council. She did not let this deter her continuous involvement in the program. She took the initiative to call the agency in her county of residence to ask if she could join the agency’s Local Council and is also their designee to District Council 5. Sarah has truly invested many hours and heartfelt dedication to the program. She may be gone from the State Council, but not from the program. We know we will see Sarah again at the State Council in the future. Thank you Sarah for loving the families and the program. We appreciate you very much.

Medicare Competitive Bidding Program:  Karen Wills, Statewide Director of Therapeutic Services, has provided the following information which can impact persons supported. Medicare's Competitive Bidding Program took effect in Tennessee on July 1, 2013. This national program limits what companies can provide certain medical equipment and supplies through Medicare. Areas affected in Tennessee include Chattanooga, Knoxville, Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, and Memphis.

Persons who have Original Medicare as well as families and providers who support them, need to review important information about this program. Persons affected by the program are determined based on the zip code where they live.

Please click here for a background on the program and answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs).  To search by zip code and item to see if this program will affect a person, click on “About the Directory.”

DIDD Training Update:  A reminder that learner and administrator access to College of Direct Support was terminated on June 21.  Transcripts or reports in CDS cannot be printed.   We have received our final data download from CDS of demographic information.  More than 170 agencies have completed their staff downloads into Relias Learning at this time.  We continue to work on consolidating training records and transferring records to Relias.  We anticipate that historical CDS training records will become available in Relias no later than August 1.  If requested, please give the learner a copy of his or her CDS transcript until the Relias transfer is completed.  Work also continues on a solution for sharing employee training histories.  Relias is committed to an automated solution by October.  Please review the new training tab on the DIDD website here for coursework crosswalks, new forms for requesting learner “Moves,” recorded webinars and training information.  Live webinars on the new Relias Learning Management System (RLMS) functionality resume next week with the following schedule:


July 9:  “Supervisor Overview of new RLM” (10 AM CDT/11 AM EDT)
July 10: “Supervisor Overview of new RLM” (1 PM CDT/2 PM EDT)
July 11: “Sup-Portal Admin RLM Curriculum Overview” (10 AM CDT/11 AM EDT)
July 12: “Supervisor Overview of new RLM” (11 AM CDT/12 PM EDT)

DIDD Conflict Management/Dispute Resolution Training:  Ten Knox area provider and ISC agencies (pictured at right) participated in the 6-hour Conflict Management/Dispute Resolution training at the United Way in Oak Ridge on June 26.  The training was conducted by Dr. Michael Mailahn, Customer Focused Services Coordinator/Rule 31 Mediator.  This training is available to all DIDD stakeholders upon request. For scheduling information, please call Dr. Mailahn at 615-612-9570 or email Mike.Mailahn@tn.gov

SMART Clinics:  The Department of Human Resources (DOHR) has announced dates for more SMART clinics in Nashville.  Clinics are scheduled for the following dates and times:

July 9: 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. or 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
July 16: 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.  

If you are a supervisor who has not participated in a SMART clinic, please try to sign up for one of these if possible.