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October 18, 2013

Open Line

October 18, 2013

This week’s edition includes important information I want to share with you:

clipLt. Governor Ramsey Visits Greene Valley: Last week, the people who live and work at Greene Valley received a nice visit from local legislator Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey. Accompanying the Lt. Governor, were local State Representative David Hawk and Tennessee State Employees Association (TSEA) representatives Bryan Merritt and Lisa Moffett. The Lt. Governor met and spoke with persons living in the Newel, Rosewood and Pinewood homes. He was obviously very interested in the quality of care being provided, asking many questions and listening intently as various aspects of our services and supports were explained by Greene Valley staff; John Craven, East Regional Director; Diane Brightwell, Greene Valley Chief Officer and members of the Greene Valley Leadership Team. The Lt. Governor seemed especially impressed with the concept and layout of the Medical Treatment Unit and Greene Valley’s ability to provide an intense level of medical care on-site, with medical and nursing staff on duty round the clock, preventing many hospitalizations as well as allowing step-down care for persons returning to Greene Valley from hospitals.

As chairperson of the State Building Commission, the Lt. Governor was very attuned to the condition of the physical plant at Greene Valley and took the opportunity to observe recent improvements and talk about in-process and upcoming capital projects as he toured the remainder of the facility and campsite area. The department was honored to welcome Lt. Governor Ramsey and his guests. Special thanks to Greene Valley for their hospitality, warm reception and coordination of the Lt. Governor’s visit.

State Director of Residential Services: Please join me in welcoming Kim Black to the department as the new State Director of Residential Services. During her career, Ms. Black provided services to vulnerable adults and children for 13 years. Her vast experience includes working with adults experiencing complications from traumatic brain injury and dementia, working in Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and Critical Care Unit (CCU) settings, as well as direct involvement with persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Since 2007, Ms. Black has worked within the DIDD provider network facilitating direct care services, medical case management and program coordination. Without a doubt, Ms. Black’s experience and advocacy for persons with disabilities will be a strong addition to our team and a great resource for providers and persons supported. Ms. Black holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Education with a concentration in Community and Public Health and a minor in Psychology.

clipBreast Cancer Awareness Month: On Thursday, DIDD employees pulled out their pink sweaters, shirts and ties to recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Several DIDD employees have battled breast cancer over the years and Thursday’s "pink out" was a small way to honor their fight and stand with those who are still battling cancer. Thanks to everyone who participated!

For more information on how you can promote awareness or donate to the cause, please visit the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc. here.

Resources Leading to Employment: A Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS) is a work incentive that allows persons receiving Social Security Income (SSI) to set aside income and/or resources for a specified period of time in order to pay for items or services needed to achieve a specific work goal. Under an approved PASS, persons may set aside income and/or resources to pay for education or training, job coaching or other support services, transportation, job-related items, equipment needed to start a business, or just about anything else needed to achieve an occupational goal. Not everyone who is eligible for a PASS is a good candidate for using this work incentive. Like all work incentives, PASS is not intended to be a "one size fits all" solution to meet the employment support needs of every person. However, when someone indicates the desire to pursue a PASS to achieve a work goal, our Community Work Incentive Coordinators (CWICs) at the Center for Independent Living of Middle TN will begin by fully explaining the particulars of this complex work incentive and utilizing a variety of tools to help define appropriate candidacy and development of information to be included in the PASS application.

For more information, please contact the Center for Independent Living of Middle Tennessee at 1-866-992-4568 or 615-292-5803 or the Tennessee Disability Coalition at 1-888-839-7811.

How to Make Mealtime Safer: For many people we support, mealtime can be difficult. Some may require help with cutting, scooping, placing the food into their mouth, chewing, drinking and swallowing. Others may eat too quickly, take large bites and drinks, or overfill their mouth. These challenges can result in both choking and food or liquids entering the airway which can lead to pneumonia and other serious consequences, including death.

When we work with a person who has difficulty at mealtime, they often have Mealtime Instructions written by a speech language pathologist or occupational therapist which tell how the person’s food and drink need to be prepared, any adaptive equipment needed, and special assistance to help the person be safe and as independent as possible. When working with a person who has Mealtime Instructions, you must follow the instructions exactly as written and on which you were trained.

In the next few weeks, an updated version of a family training on mealtime challenges will be posted on the DIDD website. Watch for it and test your knowledge!
As an example, which of the following foods can be high risk for choking because they can be too difficult to chew, too sticky, too dry, or too slippery?

Hot dogs

Ice cubes



Peanut butter



Raw vegetables

Refried beans

Vienna sausages

Whole grapes



Cubed meat


Dry crackers


Dried fruits

Fried foods


Gummy candies

Hard and sticky candy

Answer: All of the above!

Please be sure that dining plans and instructions are followed exactly as written in order to protect people we serve from harm!

Project Titan: In an effort to better communicate with both employees and providers about Project Titan, we have established a new web site. On the new Titan site, you can find pages and information specific to providers and employees, along with a short video from Lance Iverson, DIDD Deputy Commissioner of Fiscal and Administrative Services. You will also find a new list of Frequently Asked Questions. Please check out the Titan site here.

Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) Program Update: Last week, the Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) program was highlighted. Each WIPA project has Community Work Incentives Coordinators (CWICs) who provide in-depth counseling about benefits and the effect of work on those benefits, as well as conduct outreach efforts to SSI and SSDI beneficiaries (and their families) who are potentially eligible to participate in Federal or State work incentives programs. In addition to the Center for Independent Living of Middle TN serving beneficiaries in the Middle and West regions, we recently learned the Tennessee Disability Coalition also serves beneficiaries in the Middle and East regions. Below, is a complete list of counties and CWICs representing each area:


Contact Person(s)

Davidson and Robertson

Dylan Brown

Bedford, Dickson, Giles, Hickman, Lawrence, Lewis, Lincoln, Marshall, Maury, Perry, Rutherford, Wayne, Williamson, Wilson, Cheatham, Houston, Humphreys, Stewart and Montgomery

Heidi Oechsel (Primary)

Stacy Gordon (Back Up)
615-594-5742 -Mobile
615-515-8619 -Office

Chester, Crockett, Decatur, Fayette, Hardeman, Hardin, Haywood, Henderson, Lauderdale, Madison, McNairy, Tipton, Benton, Carroll, Dyer, Gibson, Henry, Lake, Obion and Weakley

Renee Lopez

Marquisa Maxie


Hope Johnson

Anderson, Blount , Campbell , Claiborne, Knox , Loudon, Monroe, Morgan, Roane, Scott, Sevier, Union

Tim Benthal
(865) 567-7591

Bledsoe, Bradley, Hamilton, McMinn, Marion, Polk, Rhea, Sequatchie

Jami Brown
(423) 208-7093

Carter, Cocke, Grainger, Greene, Hamblen, Hancock, Hawkins, Jefferson, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi, Washington

Candi Douglas
(423) 956-1703

Cannon, Clay, Coffee, Cumberland, DeKalb, Fentress, Franklin, Grundy, Jackson, Macon Moore, Overton, Pickett, Putnam, Smith, VanBuren, Warren, White

Diana Gallaher
(615) 804-0515


Conservatorship Panel: The DIDD Office of Customer Focused Services in East TN is sponsoring an educational opportunity and Question & Answer (Q&A) session for families and DIDD stakeholders on Conservatorships. A panel comprised of an attorney, conservator and advocates will explain the intricacies of conservatorships in the DIDD system. Discussion topics will include:

  • What is Conservatorship?
  • How do I obtain Conservatorship?
  • Why should I consider Conservatorship?
  • Who can serve as a Conservator?
  • What do Conservators do? What can they not do?
  • What is the difference between a Conservator and Power-of-Attorney?
  • I am already the Conservator… Now what?
  • What are the new laws concerning Conservatorship?

The panel will present at the Life Bridges Center of Cleveland at 3:00 p.m. and at the Orange Grove Center in Chattanooga at 6:00 p.m. on October 29. Please contact Dr. Michael Mailahn at (865) 588-0508, ext. 236 for more information.

Tennessee Government Leadership Conference: Additional participants are still needed for the Tennessee Government Leadership Conference on October 30. The registration deadline is October 23. A reminder this advanced leadership program is specifically for alumni of and participants in LEAD Tennessee, Tennessee Government Executive Institute (TGEI) and Tennessee Government Management Institute (TGMI).

The conference will be held at the Curb Event Center on the Belmont University campus from 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Registration opens at 7:00 a.m., with networking and a continental breakfast beginning at 7:30 a.m. To register, please click here.

Focus Group: The next meeting in Greeneville is October 29 from 12:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m. at Greene County Skills in their conference room. Activities will involve the topic of "Rights" and celebrating Halloween. Friends, support staff, advocates, ISCs and others are welcome. Please RSVP by October 25 to or

E-mail Address Update: Effective December 1, the DIDD Business Services Unit is updating both of their group e-mail addresses. Please note the following: to to

We will ensure everyone is reminded as the effective date draws near.

E-mail Encryption: In 1996, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) specified laws for the protection and use of Personal (or Protected) Health Information (PHI). In 2010, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) was passed in order to update HIPAA rules and provided federal funds for deploying electronic medical records (EMR), also referred to as electronic health records (EHR). Among the requirements specified in these two Acts is the Safeguards Principle, which states:

"Individually identifiable health information should be protected with reasonable administrative, technical, and physical safeguards to ensure its confidentiality, integrity, and availability and to prevent unauthorized or inappropriate access, use, or disclosure."

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ website maintains an FAQ page to help users understand these requirements here. Industry best practices have further defined the requirements of the Safeguard Principle to mean that any PHI transmitted electronically must meet a minimum standard of 128-bit encryption. Encryption is a means of protecting confidential information by using an algorithmic formula to encode the text of the message, until it is received and decoded by the intended recipient. For more information about encryption of PHI, the American Medical Association has an outstanding online FAQ located here.

In order to ensure compliance with these regulations, DIDD has updated the Provider Agreement to require use of e-mail encryption when sending PHI, unless it is sent through another secure method, such as internal e-mails that never leave a secured network. There are several options available to provide encryption, ranging from very basic to very complex. Most email clients offer some level of encryption options, and it is recommended that you research these options first. Most e-mail clients, such as Microsoft Outlook, have an online Help feature that can explain how to setup e-mail encryption for your specific client. More advanced options and third-party software may require technical assistance to setup and configure. Information regarding the State’s secure e-mail system can be found on the DIDD website here.

Be safe and have a great weekend!