DHHS Highlights Newsletter_Volume 1 Issue 9

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014 | Vol. 1, No. 9

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.

Lincoln Regional Center Welcomes Therapy Dog


Envy, a golden retriever, is one of the newest staff members at the Lincoln Regional Center (LRC).

Envy was certified by Domesti-Pup to be a licensed therapy dog for LRC patients.

Health care professionals have found that animal companionship can relieve stress, lower blood pressure and improve mood.

When not at LRC, Envy will live with her home parent, LRC facility operating officer Stacey Werth-Sweeney.

LRC is operated by DHHS' Division of Behavioral Health.

DHHS Helpline Assists Thousands in 2014


The DHHS Helpline assisted more than 14,000 people during fiscal year 2014.

The Helpline, formerly called the System Advocate, is operated by Diana Duran with DHHS’ Communication and Legislative Services.

The Helpline is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.. The toll-free number is 800-254-4202. The Helpline is also available by email.

Check out the DHHS Helpline Annual Report for more Helpline statistics.

Division of Public Health Reminds People to Get Vaccinated


Flu season has arrived and DHHS’ Division of Public Health is encouraging Nebraskans to get vaccinated.

“Several viruses are in the news right now but it’s also important to remember that flu can be a serious disease,” said Dr. Joseph Acierno, chief medical officer and director of the Division of Public Health. “Getting vaccinated is the most important step you can take to protect yourself and your family from flu.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend everyone six months and older get vaccinated for the flu in the fall, or as soon as vaccine is available.

DHHS' flu website has a Flu Vaccine Finder you can use to find vaccination clinics near you.

YRTC-G Earns High Marks in American Correctional Association Audit


The Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center in Geneva (YRTC-G) recently earned its highest audit rating ever from the American Correctional Association (ACA).

Three auditors visited the facility this fall and found YRTC-G to be 100 percent compliant on 38 mandatory requirements and 99.69 percent compliant on 333 non-mandatory measurements.

“All of the staff played a part in this, just by doing their job on a daily basis and doing it well,” said Dan Scarborough, facility administrator. “I am very proud of the staff here in Geneva.”

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

Division of Children and Family Services' Bridge to Independence Program Has Immediate Impact


Bridge to Independence or b2i, a program that helps former state wards through age 21, was launched by DHHS’ Division of Children of Family Services on October 1.

It had an immediate impact.

By the end of October, 74 former wards met the requirements to participate in the program and were being assisted by independence coordinators (IC).

In one case, a young adult broke a leg over a weekend. Because of the relationship they had established, the young adult contacted the IC. A quick trip to the hospital allowed the IC to help with the emergency room process. The IC also took the young adult to a follow-up appointment the following Monday.

Learn more about how independence coordinators are helping former wards in our Pathways of Hope series.

DHHS Recognizes Employees and Supervisors of the Year and Service Anniversaries


October was Nebraska State Employee Recognition Month.

State agencies were allowed to select one employee and one supervisor of the year for every 500 people employed by the agency.

These employees, along with state employees with notable service anniversaries, were recently honored with ceremonies at the Capitol.

“These employees and supervisors are clearly an inspiration to the people they work with and the people they serve. They are role models for all of us," said Kerry Winterer, DHHS CEO.

Check out DHHS' Connections newsletter to learn more about the employees who were recognized.

Janice Ropers, trust office supervisor at the Lincoln Regional Center, second from left, is honored for her 50 years of service. Celebrating with her are from left: Lt. Gov. John Nelson, Winterer and DHHS CFO Matt Clough.

Division of Children and Family Services Launches Alternative Response Approach to Child Welfare

DHHS’ Division of Children and Family Services recently launched Alternative Response, an approach to child welfare that offers families an alternative to law enforcement and the courts.

The program, which helps families receive the services and support they need to keep children safe, is in five pilot counties:  Lancaster, Dodge, Sarpy, Hall and Scotts Bluff.

Alternative Response will be implemented statewide if research shows positive results and if legislation is passed.

“Alternative Response is a creation of the leaders in Nebraska’s child welfare system,” said Kerry Winterer, DHHS CEO. “Working with them to build this program ensures Alternative Response has the confidence from every corner of the state.”

Division of Behavioral Health Receives $3.6 Million Youth Suicide Prevention Grant


DHHS’ Division of Behavioral Health recently received a five-year, $3.6 million grant for youth suicide prevention from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The grant will help fund training for mental health professionals as well as increased suicide prevention efforts in schools and communities.

“Young people face pressures and experience mental illness and substance abuse, just like adults do, and may not know how to seek help,” said Scot L. Adams, director of the Division of Behavioral Health.  “Teachers, parents, friends, coaches and others can play a role in preventing suicide and supporting youth.”

Division of Developmental Disabilities Employee Honored


Pam Mann, administrator of training with DHHS’ Division of Developmental Disabilities, recently received the Robert L. Schalock Award.

The award is presented by the Association of Community Professionals (ACP), an organization that promotes opportunities for people with developmental disabilities. The Robert L. Schalock Award recognizes people who have had a significant positive impact on Nebraskans with developmental disabilities.
“Pam’s personal standard of excellence inspires others to go above and beyond in supporting people with developmental disabilities to live enviable lives,” said Jodi Fenner, director of the Division of Developmental Disabilities.