Public Engagement Newsletter - March 31, 2014

Helping Families. Supporting Communities. Empowering Individuals.

4/24/2014

Volume 4, Issue 1, March 31, 2014

[Covering January/February/March]

Dear Friends -

We are excited to report that since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and new Medicaid eligibility groups on October 1, 2013, more than 232,000 newly eligible individuals in Illinois (known as the ACA adults) have been enrolled in Medicaid. Overall, the implementation of the new healthcare law in Illinois and the state's new Integrated Eligibility System has gone well!

In fact, the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) has received an overwhelming number of new applications for benefits - 50% above our estimates for the new law. More than 506,000 applicants have used the new online Applications for Benefit Eligibility (ABE) to submit Medicaid applications, while the new ABE Customer Call Center has taken 13,530 applications for 18,700 individuals over the phone.

Together, we are working with our colleagues at the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services to process medical coverage applications transferred to the State from the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace.

Although many of our staff are working through a substantial backlog of applications while learning the new system, the State is just about current in registering new applications and working through verifications, interviews, and certifications as needed.

Applicants who applied for health coverage - either through the Marketplace or Medicaid - before March 31, 2014, when the Marketplace open enrollment period ended, are considered "in-line" for health coverage. This means they may still be able to buy coverage on the Marketplace if they encountered technical problems or were waiting for their Medicaid application to be processed. You can find more information by visiting: www.getcoveredillinois.gov.

In addition to the exciting news that we want to share with you about the ACA and new Medicaid eligibility groups, in just the first three months of this new year there are many public engagement efforts taking place at the IDHS. We won't spoil the good news…so just continue to read our Public Engagement Newsletter and you'll be amazed.


ABE enhancement allows individuals to track the status of their application

Individuals can now return to the Application for Benefits Eligibility (ABE) website after submitting an application to upload verification documents until a caseworker begins processing the application.

Applicants can simply: 1) log back into ABE, 2) select that you are returning to check the Status of an Application, 3) click on the "View" button next to the application, and finally 4) click on the "Next Steps" button next to "View and Submit Types of Proof."

If the "View and Submit Types of Proof" does not appear, a caseworker has already started to process the application. You will be notified by mail if further proof documents are needed. You should mail these documents as directed as soon as possible.

Governor Quinn visits Rockford and Chicago schools to discuss Birth-to-Five Initiative

Governor Pat Quinn visited the Dennis Early Childhood Center in Rockford and Chicago's Richard Edwards Center for Young Learners in January to discuss his Birth-to-Five Initiative, the cornerstone of his five-year blueprint for jobs and economic growth. The Governor's Birth-to-Five Initiative will focus on three pillars to a healthy child: universal prenatal care, access to early care and learning opportunities for every child, and strong parental support.

Governor Quinn Birth to Five Initiative

"Study after study has shown that high-quality early childhood education has the highest return of any public investment we can make - more than $7 for every dollar spent," Governor Quinn said.  "Illinois can lead the nation in early childhood education. We have the foundation in place. Now is the time to get the job done for Illinois' littlest."

The first pillar of the Governor's Birth-to-Five Initiative calls for connecting mothers with adequate prenatal care to support healthy birth and development of their child. Prenatal care is already available to expecting mothers with modest incomes through existing programs, yet 25 percent of low-income mothers in Illinois are not receiving the services they need. These mothers are three times more likely to give birth to a low-weight baby with increased health risks and poor development.

The second pillar of the Birth-to-Five Initiative calls for providing every child with access to quality early care and learning opportunities from birth, starting with those most at-risk. Research has shown that the early years in a child's life - when the human brain is forming - represent a critically important window of opportunity to develop a child's full potential and shape key academic, social, emotional and cognitive skills that determine a child's success in school and in life.

The third pillar of the Birth-to-Five Initiative calls for ensuring that parents have the support and services needed to prepare their child for success in school and life. Family involvement during preschool is linked with stronger pre-literacy, math and social skills and positive attitudes.

Over the next five years, Illinois will connect families to a range of services and opportunities to get the training and support they need to take a leadership role in their children's education.

The Governor's Birth-to-Five Initiative also calls for the expansion of Home Visiting Programs, parent resource centers and Innovation Zones.

Since taking office, Governor Quinn has fought to preserve early childhood education from radical budget cuts and found a way to invest $45 million to build early education centers in areas that need it the most. However, more than a third of our youngest and most vulnerable children still don't have the opportunity to attend early care and learning programs before they enter kindergarten and the status quo isn't enough.

In his 2014 State of the State address, Governor Quinn laid out a five-year blueprint for jobs and economic growth in Illinois. The Governor's blueprint calls for creating more jobs, making early childhood education a top priority and building an economy that works for everyone.

New website for parents and guardians of people with developmental disabilities

The Illinois Department of Human Services introduced a new website - www.myhome.illinois.gov - for parents and guardians of people with developmental disabilities. The site was developed to offer parents and guardians of individuals living at State-Operated Developmental Centers a place to visit that contains factual and up-to-date information about available options. The site has a wealth of information about the Active Community Care Transition (ACCT) process being used to assess individuals for potential transitions to the community, and a place to share success stories of those who have transitioned and more.

Governor Pat Quinn announced the closure of Murray Developmental Center in February of 2012, as part of the Rebalancing Initiative for person with developmental disabilities. In February 2013, the IDHS began the process of transitioning individuals to settings of a guardian's choice.

Southern Illinois Case Coordination Services (SICCS) is the Independent Service Coordination agency serving our Murray residents. They are also responsible for ensuring compliance with applicable federal and state laws in part through educating families and individuals on placement choices, making referrals and linkage to appropriate services.

The SICCS will inform guardians of all the choices available and assist in the coordination of their loved ones' transitions, in anticipation of the Murray Developmental Center closure. In addition, www.myhome.illinois.gov has information on the ACCT process for parents and guardians, a list of community providers, transition success stories, and some frequently asked questions.

Partnership with UIC brings smiles for students at ICRE-Roosevelt

ICRE-Roosevelt Students

Each year, the College of Dentistry observes Give Kids a Smile Day, which provides dental screenings and cleaning for underserved students. In February 2014, for the first time ever, the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) decided to join forces with the UIC Student Fellowship Program and the special needs grant committee to host Give Kids a Smile Day at the Illinois Center for Rehabilitation and Education-Roosevelt (ICRE-R).  Despite the heavy snow, the enthusiasm and dedication of the UIC's dental students and faculty along with the ICRE-R staff - nursing and residential - was a huge success.

Thirty two dental students, two pediatric residents, six dental faculty and two UIC staff members attended the event. Thirty ICRE-R students received oral health education, dental exams, phophys, and clinical care.

UIC set up booths on brushing, flossing and healthy eating. The Tooth Fairy and Mr. Floss made their rounds with all the students and staff. Plenty of photos and fun activities enhanced a friendly atmosphere; the interaction between the UIC staff and students was indescribable.

The ongoing partnership will continue to provide multiple education sessions with ICRE-R students and their caregivers on proper dental hygiene and lifelong dental health.  At the conclusion of the event, all students left with smiles from ear-to-ear. The ICRE-R Nursing Department followed-up these services by sending a copy of the students' dental results and/or findings to their home.

Governor Quinn proposes one of the most innovative healthcare programs in the country

Governor Pat Quinn recently released the draft of a five-year plan for one of the most innovative and far-reaching healthcare transformation programs in the country. The Path to Transformation proposal would allow the state to obtain $5.2 billion in federal funds over five years to modernize healthcare infrastructure and services and lower long-term costs. The plan, which requires federal approval, is part of Governor Quinn's agenda to improve the health of the people of Illinois and increase access to quality, affordable healthcare.

"Illinois has made tremendous progress in recent years reforming and improving our healthcare system to control costs and deliver better quality care," Governor Quinn said. "This plan will help take our healthcare system to the next level - improving the health of people and communities across Illinois while significantly lowering our long-term costs."

The proposal - known as a federal 1115 Waiver demonstration project - is one of the key recommendations of the state's Alliance for Health, a state-led group of health policy leaders, providers, insurers, and other stakeholders that was convened by the Governor's Office last year. Through the project, the state is requesting federal matching funds for approximately $1 billion annually for five years for services that are currently funded solely through state resources.

The plan will also support Governor Quinn's recently announced Birth-to-Five Initiative by providing support for parents through a home visit program keyed to the early months of a child's life. It's organized around four pathways to health: transformation and modernization of the delivery system to create patient-centered health homes; improving the overall health of the population through a focus on prevention, primary care and wellness; building a 21st Century healthcare workforce; and rebuilding and expanding the state's home and community-based infrastructure, especially for those with complex health and behavioral health needs.

The Path to Transformation plan has won praise from healthcare advocates and providers who have been closely consulted during its formulation.

"The Illinois Hospital Association (IHA) appreciates Governor Quinn's leadership on the 1115 Medicaid Waiver, and we support the general direction of the waiver to bring in critically needed federal funding to transform the Medicaid program to ensure effective, coordinated care for the most vulnerable citizens of Illinois," IHA President & CEO Maryjane Wurth said. "We look forward to working with the Governor and his Administration, as well as the General Assembly, as the state moves forward with submitting the waiver application to the federal government."

"This 1115 Waiver application gives Illinois the best opportunity it has ever had to address the root causes of ill health," Health and Medicine Policy Research Group Executive Director Margie Schaps said. "This will empower Illinois to weave a system of care that prevents people from falling through the cracks, that supports people who wish to remain in their homes and communities rather than institutions, and it will also bend the rising curve of healthcare costs."

"The Path to Transformation plan is an opportunity for the state to garner federal funds to make badly needed investments in the community behavioral health and supportive housing infrastructure," Mark Ishaug, the CEO of Thresholds, a major mental health provider and advocacy group, said. "We are confident the waiver will result in improved health outcomes and reduced Medicaid costs over the long run."

"The inclusion of home visiting in the waiver plan will be a critical piece of Governor Quinn's Birth-to-Five Initiative," Voices for Illinois Children President Gaylord Gieseke said. "All the research shows that outreach to families at this crucial time in a child's development has a significant positive impact on the child's overall health as well as their social and emotional development."

"We know that we can achieve better healthcare outcomes and lower costs when people live in healthy, safe communities with access to high quality healthcare delivery systems in which provider teams work with patients to achieve a state of physical, mental and emotional well-being," the Governor's Senior Health Policy Advisor Michael Gelder, who leads the OHIT, said. "On behalf of Governor Quinn, I would like to thank the many stakeholders who have contributed their time and expertise to helping us draft this proposal."

Redeploy Illinois program saves state $60 million

The state of Illinois has saved $60 million in incarceration costs by helping to steer young people away from the prison system and onto the right path, according to the 2012-2013 Redeploy Illinois annual report recently released by the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS).

"Redeploy Illinois' success is proof that community-based services for juvenile offenders are not only the best tools we have to truly help rehabilitate delinquent youth, but they are also more cost effective," said IDHS Secretary Michelle R.B. Saddler. "This program gives youth a second chance at becoming a contributing and law-abiding citizen of their respective communities. Beyond saving dollars, the program mends lives."

In 2013, the average per capita cost to house a youth at the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (IDJJ) was $111,000, while the average annual cost to serve a youth in the Redeploy program was less than $7,000. The IDJJ data reflects 238 fewer youth were committed from Redeploy Counties in 2012. Although the 2013 the IDJJ data are not yet available, this trend is expected to continue as Redeploy Counties served 352 youth in 2013.

Redeploy Illinois was established in 2005 to provide financial support to counties in their efforts to provide community services for delinquent youth as an alternative to incarceration. The program supports a wide array of services to help delinquent youth, including counseling, substance abuse, mental health treatment, life skills education, and parent and family support services.

In the first eight years of the program, participating counties sent 1,036 juveniles to the IDJJ. This is a steep decline from the projected 2,268 youth that were likely to have been sent based on the previous three-year commitment trend; it represents a 54 percent reduction in the IDJJ commitments over the life of the program. Through 2012, the Redeploy program diverted 1,232 youth saving the state a conservative $60 million in unnecessary incarceration costs.

Redeploy Illinois has been successful in mobilizing communities to direct resources to youth offenders who otherwise would have been incarcerated. Counties receiving Redeploy Illinois funds commit to reducing their number of commitments by 25 percent in exchange for grant funds. The program began in 2005 in four sites serving 15 counties. Today, it provides services in 12 sites and 42 counties.

Governor Pat Quinn to issue executive order for Employment First Act

Last year Governor Pat Quinn signed the Employment First Act, a new law that requires Illinois state agencies to work together to make employment for people with disabilities a priority. Governor Quinn is soon expected to issue an Executive Order implementing Employment First in Illinois. The Executive Order will call for a multi-agency integrated program to improve employment for people with disabilities.

The legislation was first proposed by Governor Quinn in his 2013 State of the State address and is part of his agenda to ensure all people have the opportunity to follow their dreams and reach their full potential.

"Every person in the Land of Lincoln should have the opportunity - regardless of the challenges they face - to pursue their dreams and achieve their full potential," Governor Quinn said. "My goal is to make Illinois the nation's leading employer of people with disabilities. We've made historic progress to change Illinois through our Rebalancing Initiative and today, we are breaking down more barriers to increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities in our state."

The law requires all state agencies to work together to make competitive employment opportunities for people with disabilities a priority and establish measurable goals and objectives for the state. The law requires the Employment and Economic Opportunity for Persons with Disabilities Task Force (EEOPWD) - created in 2009 - to monitor progress towards this mission. All state agencies will be required to share data and information and ensure all policies, procedures and practices are aligned to these goals and objectives. The EEOPWD Task Force includes advocates, individuals with disabilities, business community members, disability services providers, representatives of state agencies, and other stakeholders.

The Employment First Act is modeled from a national movement that believes employment in the general workforce is the first and preferred option when exploring goals and a life path for people with disabilities. Competitive work in integrated settings for people with disabilities has proven to foster self-sufficiency, independent living, higher self-esteem, and better integration into the community. Governor Quinn is expected to appoint a liaison to manage and coordinate Employment First among those state agencies supporting and serving people with disabilities.

OTHER HAPPENINGS AT THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES

FY 2013 Illinois Child Care Report summary

The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) Office of Early Childhood has released an annual report about the status of its child care programs. The data reflects the department's continued commitment to providing quality child care services to working parents and their children.

The IDHS is required by statute to submit an annual report to the Governor and the General Assembly regarding the status of the Department's child care programs, which include the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) and Quality Improvement Programs.

The CCAP provides low-income, working families with access to quality, affordable child care that allows them to continue working and contributes to the healthy, emotional and social development of the child. In Fiscal Year 2013 (July 1, 2012 - June 30, 2013), the CCAP served a total of 259,493 children from 149,699 families.

The IDHS Quality Improvement Programs are designed to increase the quality of child care available to all Illinois families, not just those participating in the CCAP. These programs include:

  • The Illinois Quality Counts Quality Rating System (QRS) assists Illinois child care programs in providing quality care for children and their families. Quality rating systems set standards in areas such as learning environment, program administration, staff qualifications, etc. In FY 2013, 845 Department of Children and Family Services licensed child care programs participated in Quality Counts QRS. This is an increase of 12%.
  • The IDHS Quality Counts Child Care Grant Program provides funds to child care providers to support their quality improvement efforts. In FY 2013, grants totaling $3.2 million allowed child care centers and family child care homes to make program and facility improvements.
  • The Gateways to Opportunity Professional Development System includes many programs to make professional development accessible and affordable for child care practitioners.
    • The Gateways to Opportunity Credentials validate an individual's educational attainment and professional experience. In FY 2013, 655 credentials were awarded, bringing the total number of credentials in the state to 3,180.
    • The number of child care practitioners receiving Gateways to Opportunity Scholarships in FY 2013 was 934, an increase of 12%.
    • The Gateways to Opportunity Registry is a resource tool to drive quality and accountability of professional development available to early learning, school age and youth development practitioners. Anyone working "on behalf of" children can be a member of the Gateways Registry. On June 30, 2013, Registry membership was 44,803.

For more information on the Illinois Child Care Report, visit: www.dhs.state.il.us.

IDHS clarifies who must report dangerous activity and what constitutes "clear and present danger"

The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) recently announced new Firearm Owner Identification (FOID) Mental Health Reporting System requirements as part of the Firearm Concealed Carry Act (PA 98-063).

The IDHS plans to raise awareness of the new law that took effect on July 9, 2013, that requires a variety of mental health facilities, physicians, licensed clinical psychologists, and other health professionals to report patients who they believe pose a "clear and present danger" to themselves or others. The definition of "clear and present danger" has been clarified and the number of health professions required to report has been expanded under the new law.

"The new concealed carry law broadens the scope of the Illinois FOID Mental Health Reporting System, both [in terms of] who must report and what information they must report," IDHS Secretary Michelle R.B. Saddler said. "We are partnering with our sister state agencies and many statewide associations and others to ensure that clinicians and facilities understand the importance of the new reporting requirements."

The Illinois FOID Mental Health Reporting System is an online system administered by the IDHS. It collects information on persons in Illinois who have been declared in court to be mentally disabled; admitted to an inpatient mental health facility within the last five years; determined to be a "clear and present danger" to themselves or others: or determined to be developmentally disabled.

The system identifies mental health facilities and physicians, and licensed clinical psychologists and qualified examiners as mandated reporters. A qualified examiner includes social workers, registered nurses, clinical professional counselors, and marriage and family therapists who report only if they have an additional three years of clinical experience involving evaluation and treatment with patients that have a mental illness.

The IDHS then cross-references persons to the Illinois State Police (ISP) FOID database for matches, which are then reported to the ISP. The ISP is then responsible for investigating and processing or rejecting the application for the FOID card. The purpose of these regulations is to save lives through common sense reform and careful oversight.

The IDHS must be notified of anyone who communicates a serious threat of physical violence against a reasonably identifiable victim or poses a clear and imminent risk of serious physical injury to himself, herself or another person; or who demonstrates threatening physical or verbal behavior, such as violent, suicidal, or assaultive threats, actions, or other behavior as determined by a physician, clinical psychologist or qualified examiner. All reports must be completed via the new Illinois FOID Reporting System developed and maintained by the IDHS.

Those entities required to report include hospitals; nursing homes; residential settings; and outpatient facilities. Clinicians and qualified examiners who must report include; physicians; psychiatrists; clinical psychologists; clinical social workers; registered nurses; licensed clinical professional counselors; and marriage and family therapists. All reporting is confidential and HIPPA compliant.

To learn more about the Illinois FOID Mental Health Reporting System, please visit https://foid.dhs.illinois.gov/foidpublic/foid/.

DASA and DMH join forces

Theodora BinionGovernor Pat Quinn filed an Executive Order in April consolidating the Illinois Department of Human Services' Division of Mental Health and the Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse into a single entity called the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Recovery Services. The order states that the social supports and community services that people with mental illness and addictions are extremely similar and therefore services should be appropriately coordinated.

IDHS Secretary Michelle R.B. Saddler said Theodora Binion will serve as Director of the new division.

It is expected that the consolidation of the DASA and the DMH will benefit those individuals served by the IDHS-funded community-based agencies. These benefits include: 1) improved access to substance abuse and mental health services, 2) improved overall quality of care, 3) improved quality of substance abuse and mental health services for children and adolescents, 4) reduced administrative burden on providers, 5) improved readiness to integrate substance abuse and mental health services with primary health care, and 6) fuller development of the substance abuse and mental health recovery movement as a part of the state's permanent infrastructure of substance abuse and mental health services.

"The merger of the DASA and the DMH is expected to provide an opportunity to build a combined system on the foundational strengths of both divisions," said Director Binion. "The merged divisions will strengthen the collaboration between substance abuse and mental health, improve the knowledge base and staff expertise and streamline administrative functions across the IDHS."

The growing number of providers delivering both substance abuse and mental health services will benefit from more streamlined processes and communications from a single funding and oversight agency. The IDHS will work toward the integration of data collection and reporting that will allow for more improved outcome-oriented treatment and will promote advances in wellness and recovery among those with substance abuse and mental health disorders. 

The initiatives and programs of both divisions will be preserved and maintained under the new division and are expected to strengthen the workforce and allow staff to be more responsive to the needs of Illinois residents.

Division of Family and Community Services names new director

Dyahanne WareDyahanne Ware has been appointed as the Director of the Division of Family and Community Services.  Dyahanne, an attorney, comes to us from the General Licensing division at the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

A native of Illinois, she has several years of experience as an attorney in the private sector working for major corporations.Prior to joining Illinois state government, Dyahanne was the Market Human Resources Manager at Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. in Abilene, Texas, supporting 16 stores in two commercial markets. She also worked for Hudson Legal Recruiting in Budapest, Hungary, where she created corporate placement strategies in 18 countries in Central and Eastern Europe. Additionally, she served as a Regional Managing Counsel at Vantage Solutions where she provided counsel and management on employment issues for corporate clients and served in legal positions at Commerce Clearing House and Encyclopedia Britannica.

Dyahanne is a graduate of the University of Illinois, Chicago; holds an MBA from the University of Chicago; and a law degree from the John Marshall Law School.

Dyahanne's extensive experience will be extremely helpful as the DFCS continues to address highly staff intensive initiatives and strives to streamline and improve services to our customers.  Please join us in welcoming Dyahanne to the IDHS.

Silvia Villa promoted to Director of the Division of Hispanic\Latino Affairs

Silvia VillaThe Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) has named Silvia Villa as the new Director of the Office of Hispanic/Latino Affairs (OHLA). The OHLA provides assistance that fosters and enhances the IDHS delivery of services to the Hispanic/Latino community and those that speak limited English.

"Silvia brings a wealth of knowledge, creativity and energy to her new position," IDHS Secretary Michelle R.B. Saddler said. "Silvia has extensive experience in education and management and is a well-respected leader and advocate in the Chicagoland immigrant and Latino community."

The OHLA serves as the primary liaison to government officials and community organizations to develop partnerships and eliminate barriers in the delivery of programs and services to the Hispanic/Latino community.

Villa has been with IDHS since 2007, serving as the Executive Director of the Illinois Welcoming Centers - the first Integrated Service Model in the State of Illinois. Her career has been dedicated to improving opportunities and ensuring rights for immigrant and Latino communities. Villa stated, "I am both honored and humbled to accept this opportunity to serve the Latino communities in our state."

Prior to joining the IDHS, Villa was the Director of the Cicero Berwyn Initiative for Education Excellence, an initiative of the Chicago Teachers' Center of Northeastern Illinois University. She was also the Assistant Director of the Rafael Cintron Ortiz Latino Cultural Center at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

Villa has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Applied Sociology and holds a Master's Degree in Education and Instructional Leadership from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is also a candidate for a Ph.D. in Instructional Leadership.

Villa began her new position on February 1, 2014. Please join us in celebration of Silvia's new promotion.

Happy 175th Birthday to the Illinois School for the Deaf

Secretary Saddler at ISD 175th AnniversaryThe Illinois School for the Deaf (ISD) celebrated the 175th anniversary of its founding in February 2014. A gala celebration was held on the evening of February 22, 2014, at the Jacksonville Country Club. Secretary Saddler spoke at the event and congratulated the ISD for being one of the oldest schools in Illinois. Also there for the celebration were Ryan Croke, Chief of Staff, Office of Governor Pat Quinn; State Senator Sam McCann; and State Representative C.D. Davidsmeyer.

In addition, past superintendents of the school Dr. Peter Seiler, Mrs. Joan Forney, Ms. Marybeth Lauderdale and current superintendent Dr. Janice Smith-Warshaw were present as well.

Attendees were treated to a grand evening in the company of President & Mrs. Lincoln and Senator & Mrs. Browning characters. Dr. Steven Weiner, Provost at Gallaudet University, provided reflections on the school's great contributions throughout the past 175 years, with a look towards the future.

The ISD has a proud heritage as a residential school, recognized for providing quality educational choices and a 24-hour environment that allows for crucial communication access in all aspects of the students' lives.ISD Students

Throughout the 2013-2014 school year, the 175th Celebration Committee set its sights on implementing activities that included students, their families, faculty and staff, alumni, and the general community.

The Illinois House of Representatives, the Illinois Senate, and the City of Jacksonville all presented the ISD with proclamations for the services provided by the school to deaf children throughout the State of Illinois.

Students at the school have participated in activities such as news stories and features on the history of the school, panel discussions, Deaf Awareness Week activities, and a "birthday" celebration on February 23, 2014, complete with cake and ice cream for everyone.

The committee developed a commemorative ornament celebrating the rich history of the school, which is for sale through the local Pathway Services. Proceeds from the sale of these ornaments will go to the Illinois Foundation for Deaf Children.

The 175th Celebration Committee also worked to secure a historical marker for the front lawn of the main building on campus. The marker, which has been purchased through private donations, will be inscribed with a bit of the ISD's history, noting that the main building is the oldest State of Illinois building that has been in continuous use for its original purpose. The main building is on the National Registry of Historical Buildings in the USA.

A dedication ceremony for the historical marker will be held on May 9, 2014, at 11:30 a.m. on the front lawn. Each student will be given a t-shirt as part of the celebration festivities from proceeds of the gala celebration. This event is open to the public.

The activities surrounding the 175th anniversary of the founding of the ISD have emphasized the school's significant role in education throughout the past 175 years.

For nearly 30 years PMP serves as national model for tracking prescription drugs

Information gathered by the Illinois Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) has helped guide the treatment of patients and has assisted law Illinois Prescription Monitoring Programenforcement in investigating and prosecuting illegal and fraudulent prescribing activities. Now, the PMP is about to enter a new frontier that may drastically change the way drugs are prescribed in nursing homes. The PMP Long-Term-Care (LTC) initiative is an unprecedented opportunity to change the drug prescribing culture in nursing homes and improve clinical outcomes by identifying the unnecessary use of antipsychotic drugs.

The Illinois Prescription Monitoring Program began in 1986, and at that time, monitored only Schedule II prescription drugs, including painkillers such as morphine and hydrocodone.

In 1997, the department moved from the paper-based triplicate program to an electronic data collection system.

In 2007, the program launched the new PMP website, which authorized prescribers and dispensers to access a new clinical tool to evaluate their patients' controlled substances use history and to prevent accidental overdoses or drug interactions through multiple prescribers or dispensers.

Next, the PMP was expanded to monitor Schedule III through V drugs, including Codeine, Vicodin and Valium. Since the PMP began tracking all controlled substances in 2008, the department has documented a nearly 70 percent reduction in individuals seeing 6 or more subscribers and 6 or more dispensers within a 30-day period without any interventions.

In 2012, the PMP joined a national data-sharing network that allows participating states to share information on prescriptions of controlled substances. Thanks to the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy's the PMP InterConnect program, prescribers and dispensers in Illinois can check their potential patients use of controlled substances within Illinois and 15 others states.

Through this network, we are better able to identify when patients have been issued duplicate prescriptions for controlled substances across state lines. The program alerts prescribers and dispensers when patients exceed recommended limits on controlled substances, which helps to prevent prescription drug abuse.

The PMP will also integrate controlled substance prescription data into Electronic Health Record systems to allow access to prescription information across healthcare networks, including emergency departments and short- and long-term inpatient care.

Last year, the PMP collected 16.4 million prescription records and 22,000 doctors and pharmacists currently refer to that clinical data on a regular basis. Participating pharmacists and doctors complete about 150,000 PMP searches each month.

Looking ahead, the PMP-LTC program is an outgrowth of the PMP initiative. Based upon concerns of the legislature regarding substantial utilization of behavioral health medications within the nursing home population, the IDHS and the Illinois Department of Public Health entered into an interagency agreement to design, develop, test, and implement an electronic means of data collection and review. This has resulted in the ability to take downloads from long-term care pharmacy operations on a weekly basis and develop a data warehouse that will allow for reports that evaluate use of behavioral health medications by patient, by facility, by region, and statewide. The tool will allow for identification of regions and facilities where prescribing may be outside of general community standards for evidence-based clinical practice. In plain terms the system will reduce unnecessary use of drugs in nursing homes, prevent problems before they happen and save millions of dollars in unnecessary medical services.

So what began as a means of improving data collection of Schedule II substances has grown into a clinical data warehouse. Thanks to the inquisitive nature and creativity of those involved in the program we can look forward to a future where the PMP program will prevent fraudulent prescribing, and potential adverse drug reactions and even save lives. For more information about the Illinois Prescription Monitoring Program please visit www.ilpmp.org. The expansion of the IDHS' PMP is being funded by $450,000 in federal grants.

Pamela Curtis, Au.D recipient of 13th Annual Audiology Services Award

Pamela Curtis and Robert Griffith

Pamela Curtis, Au.D, of Albion has been given the 13th Annual Audiology Services Award from the Illinois Department of Human Services' Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS).

Dr. Curtis has been practicing Audiology for 30 years and currently works out of Richland Memorial Hospital in Olney.

Robert Griffith of the DRS Deaf and Hard of Hearing office presented a plaque to Dr. Curtis for her outstanding Audiology services. She was nominated by the DRS counselor Denise Smith of Olney.

"I like the rehabilitation part of it and how the patients can immediately hear better," said Dr. Curtis. "It's rewarding to see what a difference the hearing aid makes for patients."

Dr. Curtis services a wide area in Southern Illinois and enjoys building relationships with her patients.

Division of Rehabilitation Services holds career fair for people with disabilities

DRS Career FairMore than 200 people recently attended the 21st Annual Career Fair for People with Disabilities in Moline. The free event, sponsored by the Quad-Cities Corporate Partners and the Quad-Cities Disability Employment Network was held at the iwireless Center in Moline. 

There were 22 participating area employers and community agencies. The Career Fair assists people with disabilities to obtain and maintain meaningful employment.

The event also featured a workshop on Using Social Media in Your Job Search presented by Corey Fineran, Transition Specialist, Black Hawk Area Special Education District; free haircuts for customers provided by Le James International Beauty School; and a presentation by Dress for Success.

IDHS Family Community Resource Center moves to new location in Charleston

The Coles, Douglas, Edgar, Effingham and Shelby County Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) offices have consolidated to form the new Mid-Illinois Family Community Resource Center. Customers are now being served by the new location.

The new office serves nine counties including: Clark, Coles, Cumberland, Douglas, Edgar, Effingham, Moultrie, Piatt, and Shelby.

Office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The address and phone number for the new office are:

Mid-Illinois Family Community Resource Center 
1550 Douglas St.
Charleston 61920

Phone:(217) 345-2188
Nextalk: (866) 846-0527
Fax:(217) 345-2190


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Aurelio Huertas Fabrizio
Editor-in-Chief | Public Engagement Newsletter
Illinois Department of Human Services
Email: Aurelio.Huertas@illinois.gov

Office: 312.793.9959 | Fax: 312.793.2351 | TTY: 800.447.6404