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Provider Updates of OMR/OVR Initiatives
April 7, 2001

Lynn Keltz, PCPA's MR Policy Specialist, offers the following information about Office of Mental Retardation (OMR) and Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) initiatives. Questions about any of the items mentioned should be directed to Keltz.

Independent Monitoring Report Issues

The Office of Mental Retardation promised advocates that they would remind licensed residential providers not to open the mail of their consumers. This issue arose during a review of the Independent Monitoring Teams' first year findings. Twenty-three percent of those surveyed said that they have their mail opened without permission always or most of the time. Deputy Secretary Thaler said that she would send a reminder to providers that licensing regulations do not permit this. Kevin Casey of PA Protection and Advocacy pointed out that even prisons must have a Court Order to open the mail of inmates.

Another point of particular interest to advocates was the lack of formal communications systems and adaptive equipment for many of the individuals surveyed. Of the 987 individuals surveyed who do not communicate verbally, only 18% (176) have a formal communication system in place. For those people, the system is working and being used in only half the cases. Twenty-two percent of the people who need adaptive equipment do not have it available to them.

Copies of The Institute on Disabilities' Independent Monitoring Statewide Summary for 1999-2000 may be obtained by contacting Lynn Keltz at PCPA.

Transformation Project

Each county MH/MR office now has a "transformation contact person." In most cases, these are the MR Coordinators. There is also a County Administrator Advisory Council to OMR, consisting of Al Dahma, Cindy Zembryki, Don Clark, James Gallagher, Kathy Smith, Kelly Goshen, Maryann Grace, Michael Covone, Mike Chambers (MH/MR Administrators), Phillip Fenster, and Steve Warren. The OMR regional contacts are: Southeast, Shelley Zaslow, 215.560.6358; Northeast, Robert Conklin, 570.963.3166; Central, Norm Metzger, 570.3720.5226; and West, Gary Geis, 412.565.5145.

The teams that are dealing with various transformation project issues have started to meet. There were so many interested providers and advocates that OMR established "Transformation Project Subject Matter Experts (SME)/Reality Check Team." This might be seen as the consolation prize for those who applied to be on teams but were not selected. We are working on getting lists of all the teams for anyone who is interested.

Incident Reports and HCQUs

Members of the Association's MR Committee have expressed concern about the confidentiality of Incident Reports that now must be sent to the new Health Care Quality Units (HCQUs). These HCQUs are not part of state or county government. They are funded by OMR allocations to consortiums of counties which then contract with an entity to create and administer a HCQU. Association staff spoke with Dr. Jill Morrow of OMR, who oversees the HCQUs. She stated that the HCQU staff are clinical people who are aware of the need for confidentiality. If a provider has reason to believe that confidentiality is breached, or wants more assurance that the reports will be kept confidential, Dr. Morrow suggests that they speak first with their own county, followed by a contact to the administering county, if that is needed. According to Dr. Morrow, it is the county consortiums that decide whether the provider or the county should send the Incident Reports to the HCQU.

Dr. Morrow also explained that the HCQUs only want the clinically related Incident Reports. The purpose of gathering the reports is to enter them into a database that will enable the department to look at trends and patterns of events such as hospitalizations and emergency room visits. This should enable the HCQUs to recommend training at various levels, including to providers, counties, medical personnel and the community. She emphasized that HCQUs are not investigators. Dr. Morrow is willing to attend a MR Committee meeting to discuss the health related work of OMR but will not be able to come in May due to her work on the Transformation Project.

OVR Notes

The Office of Vocational Rehabilitation recently developed a new vocational assessment tool intended to enhance the ability of OVR customers to make informed vocational choices and to emphasize OVR's role as an employment agent. PCPA has requested a copy from OVR, so please contact Lynn Keltz if you would like to review it.

Also, OVR has a Workgroup on Performance Based Contracting for Job Coaching that met this week for the first time. It will monitor and evaluate implementation of the new OVR contracting and payment approach to securing job coaching services for people with disabilities.

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