DHHS Highlights Newsletter: Volume 2 Issue 4

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Thursday, April 9, 2015 | Vol. 2, No. 4

DHHS’ Highlights is published by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services for those interested in the latest information on health and human services issues. Please subscribe to or share the newsletter by clicking on the "Share" button.

New DHHS CEO, Courtney Phillips, Visits Facilities


Courtney Phillips officially started as DHHS’ CEO on April 2.

In less than a week, Phillips met DHHS employees at the Nebraska State Office building in Lincoln, the Lincoln Customer Service Center for Medicaid and Long-Term Care, the Lincoln Regional Center and the Beatrice State Developmental Center.

Phillips emphasized the importance of building relationships and keeping lines of communication open.

She said she plans to spend time with all of DHHS' division directors and agency administrators to learn about each of their division’s roles, goals, successes and challenges.

DHHS CEO, Courtney Phillips (right), visits with Linda, a resident at the Beatrice State Developmental Center.

Western Nebraska Veterans’ Home Celebrates 40 Years


DHHS’ Western Nebraska Veterans Home (WNVH) in Scottsbluff recently celebrated its 40th anniversary.

The facility opened on March 19, 1975, with 12 members who stayed in dormitories of the former Hiram Scott College.

In the fall of 1975, WNVH increased its bed capacity from 12 to 24 and became eligible for matching Veterans’ Affairs funds for renovation. WNVH completed its first renovation in 1977 and has undergone several renovations since.

WNVH's most recent renovation, completed in 2004, added an activities area, canteen, beauty shop, spaces for physical and occupational therapy and a new reception area.

The facility now has the capacity to serve 103 members.

WNVH is part of DHHS' Division of Veterans' Homes which also administers veterans' homes in Grand Island, Norfolk and Bellevue.

Division of Children and Family Services Receives Award for Support of National Guard Employees


DHHS’ Division of Children and Family Services (CFS) recently received the “Above and Beyond” Award from the Nebraska Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a Department of Defense office.

ESGR recognized 24 Nebraska employers for extraordinary support of employees who serve in the Nebraska National Guard and Reserve.

“These awards were created by ESGR to publicly recognize American employers providing extraordinary patriotic support and cooperation to their employees," said Major General (Retired) Walter E. Zink, II, Nebraska ESGR state chair.

From left: Major General Daryl Bohac, Adjutant General, Nebraska; Mr. Paul Mock, ESGR National Chair; Tony Green, Acting Director, CFS; Walt Zink, Nebraska ESGR State Chair; and Lt. Colonel Kenneth Blake, ESGR Regional Deputy Director.

Lincoln Regional Center Gives New Life to Old Trees


The Lincoln Regional Center (LRC) recently had to cut down two of the property's trees because of construction on site and the condition of the trees.

Not wanting the trees to go to waste, LRC saved 10-foot stumps from both trees saved and had them turned into sculptures.

A 75-foot blue spruce tree, estimated to be about 80 years old, was carved into a bear sculpture and a 52-year-old black walnut tree was carved into an eagle sculpture.

The sculptures are now on the path of the facility’s nature trail and will be dedicated at LRC’s annual Arbor Day ceremony on April 23.

LRC is part of DHHS' Division of Behavioral Health.

Latest Vital Statistics Report Shows Increase in Births, Decrease in Marriages and a Record-Setting Age at Death


Each year DHHS’ Office of Vital Statistics maintains records of about 60,000 vital events such as births, deaths, marriages and divorces. These events are then reported in an annual Nebraska Vital Statistics Report.

The latest 2013 Nebraska Vital Statistics Report was recently released and it shows an increase in births with the highest number of births since 2009; the lowest number of marriages since 1963; and record-breaking average age of death at 75.7 years old.

The Office of Vital Statistics is part of DHHS' Division of Public Health.

DHHS Partners with UNMC to Provide Respite Care Training

DHHS’ Respite Program has partnered with the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Munroe-Meyer Institute to offer respite care training.

Respite care providers offer short-term relief to people who serve as primary caregivers for family members with disabilities. Respite care providers temporarily take over these responsibilities so primary caregivers can take a break.

The two-day Respite Education and Support Tools (REST) training session is being held April 28-29, at UNMC's Munroe-Meyer Institute, Room 3016, 444 South 44th Street, Omaha.

People who complete the training will be qualified to teach respite care training classes.

To register for the training sessions or to learn more about respite care, visit the REST program website.

YRTC-K Dedicates Basketball Court to Staff Member


The Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center-Kearney (YRTC-K) recently dedicated its basketball court to the facility’s recreation manager, Richard Wetjen, who has worked at YRTC-K since 1975.

YRTC-K staff members designed a special sign out of an old bleacher bench that says “Wetjen Court” and hung it up before the facility’s all-star basketball game.

Youth are selected to play in the all-star game based on the team work, sportsmanship and other skills they develop throughout the basketball season.

YRTC-K is part of DHHS' Division of Children and Family Services