DHHS Highlights Newsletter: Volume 2 Issue 5

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015 | Vol. 2, No. 5

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.

DHHS CEO, Division Directors Confirmed by Legislature


The Nebraska legislature recently confirmed Gov. Pete Ricketts' appointment of Courtney Phillips as DHHS CEO.

The legislature also confirmed Calder Lynch as the director of the Division of Medicaid and Long-Term Care and reconfirmed John Hilgert as director of the Division of Veterans' Homes.

Phillips and Lynch are new to Nebraska, having most recently worked at Louisiana's Department of Health and Hospitals. 

Hilgert has been director of the Division of Veterans' Homes since 2008. He is also director of the Nebraska Department of Veterans' Affairs.

New directors will be appointed for the divisions of Behavioral Health, Children and Family Services, Developmental Disabilities and Public Health.

To read the confirmation testimonies of Phillips, Lynch and Hilgert, or to learn more about DHHS' legislative activities, visit the Legislation page of our website.

DHHS CEO Courtney Phillips testifies before the legislature's Health and Human Services Committee during her confirmation hearing. Photo: NET screenshot

Norfolk Veterans’ Home Receives Deficiency-free Survey


For the fourth year in a row, the Norfolk Veterans’ Home was recently found deficiency-free in its annual Health Care System Survey from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

A survey team, including three registered nurses, a registered dietician and a life safety code expert, found the facility had no deficiencies in the areas of safety, resident care, environment, staff training and development, dietary/food service, banking and billing services for veterans, recreation/activities, medical staff credentialing, social work, and all areas related to quality assurance and care.

“Receiving another deficiency-free survey truly says great things about the Norfolk Veterans’ Home’s committed staff members who live the mission of serving America’s heroes. Their dedication and exemplary service sets an example for us all," said Courtney Phillips, DHHS CEO.

DHHS’ Division of Veterans’ Homes also oversees facilities in Bellevue, Grand Island and Scottsbluff.

Everyone Has a Role in Preventing Child Abuse


Courtney Phillips, DHHS CEO, recently attended the Pinwheels for Prevention event in Lincoln to talk about child abuse prevention.

"Everyone has a responsibility and a stake in preventing child abuse," Phillips said at the event. "Not only for the protection of children, but to give them a better chance at a good life and to make Nebraska communities a safer place to live."

The Pinwheels for Prevention event was hosted by the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation and Nebraska Child Abuse Prevention Fund Board, which recently launched the BringUpNebraska.org website to provide community members with more information on child abuse prevention.

Nebraska law requires any person who suspects that a child has been physically or sexually abused or neglected to report it to DHHS’ Adult and Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 1-800-652-1999 or law enforcement.

DHHS CEO Courtney Phillips, left, talks with Tiffany and Brandon Verzal at the second annual Pinwheels for Prevention picnic in Lincoln recently. Brandon is the chair of the Nebraska Child Abuse Prevention Fund Board. Photo: Russ Reno

DHHS Receives $6 Million Grant to Help Save Lives


Nebraska recently received a roughly $6 million grant from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust to purchase lifesaving equipment for ambulances and hospitals.

Thanks to the grant, about 360 ambulance services and 80 hospitals in Nebraska will receive the Physio-Control LUCAS® 2, an external, mechanical device that provides automated chest compressions to adults in cardiac arrest.

Designed for use by first responders and hospital personnel, the LUCAS® 2, improves outcomes for heart attack patients.

As part of this three-year grant, DHHS’ Emergency Medical Services (EMS) program will help coordinate the purchase and distribution of the devices as well as provide the appropriate training.

From left: Dean Cole, DHHS EMS program manager; Shelley Stingley, Helmsley Foundation; Chief Brian Daake, Beatrice Fire and Rescue and Dr. Don Rice, statewide physician medical director, DHHS EMS program; with a LUCAS® 2. Photo: Dianna Seiffert

DHHS to Publish Key Performance Metrics on ACCESSNebraska Services


Gov. Pete Ricketts and DHHS CEO Courtney Phillips recently announced that DHHS has started publishing monthly reports on key performance metrics for ACCESSNebraska.

These metrics include Customer Service Center call times, Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) payment accuracy rate, Medicaid eligibility accuracy and application processing times for Medicaid and SNAP.

"These metrics will help demonstrate our commitment to transparency and allow the public to track our progress, which has already begun," Phillips said.

The metrics will be updated monthly. The latest report is for April 2015.

ENVH’s Music and Memory Program Receives iPod Donation


The Eastern Nebraska Veterans’ Home (ENVH) recently became one of ten nursing homes in Nebraska certified in the Music and Memory program which connects nursing home residents to personalized music.

Bellevue University and the Military Order of the Purple Heart donated money to support ENVH's new program, and Cargill, Inc. recently donated 60 iPod Shuffles.

Since joining the program, members who are typically quiet have become more vocal and started to move with the music, said Troy Schulz, ENVH administrator.

The Division of Veterans' Homes also administers veterans' homes in Norfolk, Grand Island and Scottsbluff.

ENVH member Louis Garrod enjoys his favorite music on his new iPod Shuffle. Photo: Audrey Hester

DHHS' YRTC-G Recognizes Volunteers with Banquet


DHHS’ Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center in Geneva (YRTC-G) recently honored its volunteers with a “Groovy 60s” Volunteer Recognition Banquet.

During the past year, volunteers donated more than 2,000 hours of their time to the youth.

"While we are justifiably proud of the work of staff in meeting the needs of our youth, the contributions of the community and the many volunteers are invaluable to our success,” said Dan Scarborough, facility administrator.

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

Volunteers, some of them dressed in 60s attire, are recognized at YRTC-G's recent volunteer banquet.