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December 13, 2013

Open Line

December 13, 2013

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

Citizens Plaza Move: A reminder Central Office is relocating to Citizens Plaza today. Due to the move, staff will have limited access to their computers. While we regret the inconvenience this may cause, employees will still be available by phone. We appreciate everyone's patience during this time. Effective today, please address any correspondence to: Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Citizens Plaza, 400 Deaderick Street, Nashville, TN 37243.

New Employee: Please join me in welcoming JP Homik as the new DIDD Legislative Liaison. Prior to his appointment, JP was a Metropolitan Nashville Police Officer serving in many roles and most recently was a School Resource Officer. Before joining law enforcement, JP served in the 101st Airborne Division in Fort Campbell, Kentucky and completed two tours of duty in Iraq. JP is currently attending Lipscomb University's Yellow Ribbon Program with concentrations in Law, Justice, Society and Ethics. He resides in Nashville with his wife, Biz, and their two dogs, Cash and Dolly. With the legislative session set to convene January 14, we are certain JP will be a valued asset and wonderful addition to the DIDD family.

Remediation: Recently, our compliance with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requirements to remediate all Waiver review findings has proved difficult for some providers. It is important for all agencies to have systems in place to assure the provision of quality services within CMS guidelines. When those systems fail to produce satisfactory results, a subsequent mechanism for identifying and correcting these issues needs to be in place. It is our expectation that any issue identified is remediated timely, within 30 days of the finding. The timely completion of remediation is a critical component of our approved Waivers and ongoing partnership among DIDD, TennCare and CMS.

Joint Presentation: Elise McMillan, co-director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, and Dr. Thomas Cheetham, DIDD Health Services Director, presented information about the Developmental Disabilities Health Care E-Toolkit to the national conference of the Association of University Centers on Disabilities in Washington, D.C., on November 18. Those in attendance expressed a great deal of enthusiasm about the project.

The toolkit is an electronic adaptation of Canada's "Tools for the Primary Care of People with Developmental Disabilities," which Dr. Cheetham was instrumental in developing during his work in Ontario, Canada. The aim of this project is to give primary care providers easy access to best practice information that will allow them to better serve adults with intellectual and other developmental disabilities. The website,, will be operational in February 2014.

Employee Accolades: Congratulations to Tom O'Brien, DIDD Director of Complaint Resolution, on winning the Teaching Family Association's (TFA) National Award for Outstanding Contribution & Achievement in Human Services. We are very proud of Tom's work and his contributions to the department and those we serve!

Spotlighting Persons Supported and Employment Success: Mike is supported by Orange Grove Center in Chattanooga. He is a family man and values relationships with his sister and other family members. He enjoys preparing his own snacks at home, helping with daily indoor chores and outside yard work. Mike enjoys shopping and having neat clothes. He likes to socialize and make new friends. He bowls once a week and belongs to a league called the All Stars. He is a sports enthusiast, competitive sportsman and his favorite teams are the UT Vols and the Boston Red Sox. Mike is a State Special Olympics Gold Medalist in snow skiing, basketball and also holds medals in track and field.

In September 2013, Mike was offered a job at the Sports Barn in downtown Chattanooga working three days a week. He is paid a competitive wage of $7.25 an hour. His responsibilities include maintaining the basketball and handball courts, indoor track and other hardwood floors in the club. He is also responsible for preparing towels and distributing them to members throughout the club. Additionally, he vacuums, cleans all glass surfaces and maintains the humidifiers. Mike is on a first-name basis with most of his co-workers, supervisors and club members. Above all, Mike is proud of his job and really enjoys working in a sports environment.

Call for Proposals: The TN Disability MegaConference is soliciting proposals for their 2014 conference on how change has impacted your agency. Proposals from presenters with disabilities are encouraged. For ideas and criteria, please click here. Proposals will be accepted until January 3, 2014 at midnight. Please call Lynnette Henderson 615-936-0448 or Misty Vetter at 615-966-5159 if you have any questions.

Employment Resources: Below, are some businesses in East Tennessee that have recently hired people with disabilities:

Auto Details of Oak Ridge; Blount Memorial Hospital; Bojangles; Bonefish Grill; Breakthrough Bakery; Burger King; C&R Painting; Capstan; Century Link; Clyde Austin 4H Horse Center; Cooke's Foods; Cumberland Village; Dawn of Hope; Double Tree; East TN PBS; Eddie's Hair ; Erlanger Hospital; Kroger; Lakeway; Lowe's; McDonald's; Monroe County Schools; NY Pizza Dept; Park Ridge Medical; Reliable Cleaning; Salon Visage; and Secure Document Destruction

Please use this information. Job Developers and other employment staff can use this as a guide when networking in the field and seeking employment for the people they serve.You could approach a business in your area and inquire whether that specific business is hiring people with disabilities in other areas. Or, you could approach an employer and talk about how other businesses in their industry have had success in employing persons with disabilities.

Giving Back: The Tennessee Government Management Institute (TGMI) class of 2013, represented by Caira Garcia and Michelle Smith, collected food for The Second Harvest Food Bank. The total number of cans collected by the class was 589, twice the amount collected by all other classes combined for a grand total of 1089 pounds of food! This would not have been possible without generous donations from several DIDD staff. Various providers also gave generously to the Annual Leadership Meeting. Special thanks to Independent Opportunities, Inc., Buffalo River Services, Pacesetters, Franklin County Adult Activity Center (New Life) and Progressive Directions, Inc. for all their contributions!

clipHolidays at Greene Valley: It has been an annual tradition since the 1980s for music professor Rebecca Paluzzi to bring her East Tennessee State University (ETSU) Flute Choir to dazzle people at Greene Valley with sounds of the season! She incorporated jingle bells for jingling and a tone block to simulate the sounds of a horse clopping down the lane. While the students were playing, it was impossible to not get in the holiday spirit. Ms. Paluzzi also knows a particular lady living in Maple Cottage that celebrates her birthday in December, so as usual, the group sang the "happy birthday" song much to her delight. Greene Valley wishes to express their appreciation to Ms. Paluzzi and the ETSU Flute Choir. They know it is truly Christmas when the Flute Choir comes to visit!

clipFocus Groups: The Knoxville Focus Group with representatives from Emory Valley Center, RHA, Sertoma Center and Michael Dunn Center, extend wishes for a pleasant holiday to all across the state. Coming off Thanksgiving, they expressed appreciation for DIDD services and caring staff. The Knoxville Focus Group rotates among area providers and is seeking a willing provider to host their February and March meetings. If interested in hosting, please contact Dr. Mike Mailahn at 865-320-2196.

Be safe and have a great weekend!