DHHS Highlights Newsletter: Volume 2 Issue 2

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Monday, March 2, 2015 | Vol. 2, No. 2

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.

Courtney Phillips Announced as New DHHS CEO

Courtney Phillips.2.27

Gov. Pete Ricketts recently named Courtney Phillips the new DHHS CEO.

Phillips currently serves as deputy secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH). She started her career at DHH in 2003 and has served as a Medicaid program manager and as the agency’s chief of staff.

Phillips holds a Masters of Public Administration from Louisiana State University and is currently a doctoral student in Public Policy at Southern University.

As she works with Gov. Ricketts to craft a strategic plan for DHHS, Phillips said their focus will be “driven by our mission to help Nebraskans live better lives.”

Phillips starts April 2.

Calder Lynch Named Medicaid and Long-Term Care Director


Recently, Gov. Pete Ricketts announced that Calder Lynch will serve as the new director of DHHS' Division of Medicaid and Long-Term Care.

Lynch is currently the chief of staff to the secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH). He previously served as policy director and special assistant to the secretary of DHH.

Lynch holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Louisiana State University and is nearing completion of a Masters of Science in Health Administration from the University of Alabama Birmingham.

“I embrace the opportunity to lead Nebraska’s Medicaid program,” said Lynch. “It’s critical that we wisely manage our programs and services so that we can improve outcomes for those who rely on our assistance while delivering better value for Nebraska’s taxpayers.”

Lynch will start work at DHHS on March 9.

Learn more about Lynch in the February issue of our DHHS employee newsletter, Connections.

YRTC-G Accredited by American Correctional Association


The Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center in Geneva (YRTC-G) recently received its most successful audit ever from the American Correctional Association (ACA) and was once again granted a three-year accreditation. 

“Our process in addressing the needs spelled out in ACA audits makes this a safer place for youth and staff, which enables treatment to be more successful for youth,” said Dan Scarborough, facility administrator.

The YRTC-G received its first accreditation from ACA in 1981 and except for 1984, when it did not participate, the facility has received accreditation every time after that.

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

Nebraska Family Helpline Celebrates Five-Year Anniversary


Nebraska Family Helpline, which is provided by Boys Town and funded by DHHS, recently celebrated its five-year anniversary.

Since opening its phone lines in January 2010, the helpline has received more than 18,000 calls from families seeking help with their children.

The free, 24/7 helpline connects families to trained counselors who help families deal with their immediate crisises and identify resources in their communities for ongoing support.

“The helpline has proven to be a valuable resource for Nebraska families,” said Sheri Dawson, acting director of DHHS’ Division of Behavioral Health.  “Many are facing serious situations with their children, involving mental illness, behavioral disorders, drug use and other problems. The helpline is here to provide support and referrals to providers who can help.”

The helpline number is 1-888-866-8660.

DHHS' Division of Children and Family Services Surpasses Six Federal Child Welfare Measures

DHHS’ Division of Children and Family Services (CFS) recently surpassed six federal measures designed to evaluate how well states address the safety and permanency of state wards.

CFS exceeded federal measures in the following six areas: absence of the recurrence of maltreatment, absence of maltreatment in foster care, timeliness and permanency of reunification of children with their families, timeliness of adoption, permanency for children in foster care and placement stability of removed children.

“It is difficult for states to exceed these goals and we’re told few states have accomplished the feat,” said Tony Green, acting director of CFS. “We attribute this success to the hard work of our employees, Nebraska Families Collaborative staff in Omaha, as well as the statewide efforts of local communities including the judiciary, service providers, foster and adoptive families, and the variety of other child welfare stakeholders who are all focused on the best interests of children.”

Whooping Cough Cases Increase; DHHS Urges Vaccination


Nebraska is seeing an increase in whooping cough or pertussis cases so state health officials are urging Nebraskans to remain vigilant with their vaccinations.

“There were more than 200 whooping cough cases in January which is higher than some of our total case numbers for previous years and that’s concerning,” said Dr. Joseph Acierno, Chief Medical Officer and director of DHHS’ Division of Public Health. “Parents should check their children’s vaccination records as well as their own to make sure everyone is protected.”

State health officials recommend that anyone who comes in contact with babies, toddlers and school-age children be vaccinated against whooping cough.

Also, if you’re under age 65 and haven’t had pertussis-containing vaccine as an adult, state health officials recommend you receive one dose of the tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis booster vaccine - Tdap.