2/3/21 - A Message from Secretary Hou: Bright Spot - Staff from our Division of Developmental Disabilities

Good Afternoon IDHS Staff,

As Illinois continues to trend in the right direction of decreased daily positivity COVID rates, and more available beds in our hospitals, we are working hard to help eligible Illinois adults get access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

In response to the need for vaccine support in long-term care facilities across the state, vaccination teams of nurses and support staff are being organized by IDHS. Today's Bright Spot allows us to shine a light on our peers and volunteer staff who are partnering with Illinois Long- Term Care providers to navigate this journey from the Division of Developmental Disabilities. All of these staff members have stepped up at various times during the COVID-19 pandemic in order to help and support others. We commend them on their continued leadership.

Cynthia "Cyndi" SchierlSpreen (Bureau Chief - Office of Quality Management, Division of Developmental Disabilities)

Cyndi is a Registered Nurse and brings more than 25 years of U.S. Air Force experience to her role as Bureau Chief. As Bureau Chief, Cyndi is responsible for planning, developing, and organizing the quality review and enhancement systems and programs for the Division. This isn't the first time that Cyndi has volunteered to assist community members in need. Shortly after the Stay At Home order was implemented, she contacted IDHS's leadership to offer her expertise, and was later deployed to Ludeman Developmental Center.

Anne Fitz (Statewide Nursing Coordinator, Division of Developmental Disabilities)

Anne is a Registered Nurse, and Certified Nurse Practitioner who works at IDHS as the Statewide Nursing Coordinator for the Division of Developmental Disabilities. She supervises our Health Facilities Surveillance Nurses who ensure that all of our CILA community providers are meeting compliance standards with the Division's nursing rules. Early in the pandemic, she also supported the community providers who were short-staffed by facilitating a virtual training of Direct Support Professionals so they are able to pass medications.

Mike Vespa (Manager - Program Development Unit, Division of Developmental Disabilities)

Mike has worked for the State of Illinois for nearly 23 years (20+ years at HFS and the last 2 with DHS/DD). His unit is responsible for managing the DD waiting list (PUNS) and handling various compliance requirements of the Ligas Consent Decree. Mike leads his team in handling all DD appeals. Under his care, the wait time for the PUNS List has been reduced, and appeal review.

Alfred Gakunga (Supervisor - Bureau of Quality Management, Division of Developmental Disabilities)

Alfred has been with the State and IDHS for 11 years. In 2010, he accepted an SSPPIII position which he held for 2.5 years, and has since been promoted to various roles, and is now BQM Supervisor, a role he has held since February 2020. As a supervisor, Alfred leads the reviewers with his in-depth knowledge of the review process and community provider roles. Early in the pandemic, Alfred also stepped up to volunteer as a facility manager at an area hotel that served as Alternate Housing for medical staff during the COVID-19 Stay at Home order.

Thank you to Cyndi, Anne, Mike, Alfred, and the many other staff who are leading the journey to lift up providers and people in communities throughout Illinois. I am grateful to you.



Grace B. Hou

Secretary, IDHS