People & Places - January 2014

 

UCare names new senior vice president

UCare has hired Edith Dorsey as the nonprofit health plan’s new Senior Vice President of Operations. As a member of UCare’s senior management team, Dorsey will provide strategic guidance and executive leadership for UCare’s operations departments including claims, customer service, and membership billing and enrollment. She has fiscal responsibility for the accurate and timely processing of more than 4.7 million claims annually and related audit and fraud investigation activity. Dorsey also oversees the resolution of UCare member and provider issues.

Dorsey most recently was associate vice president at Trizetto and executive client deployment leader at Eventus Solutions, two Colorado health care consulting companies. She was responsible for deploying initiatives to support integrated health care management and the California Health Benefit Exchange, respectively. She lives in St. Paul.

 

Two Minnesotans are 2013 Heroes of The Arc 

A self-advocate and a parent of a child with disabilities are the 2013 Heroes of The Arc. Charlie Applequist of Rochester and Stewart Shaw of Winona were honored at the annual Heroes Luncheon December 6 in Roseville.

Applequist, who serves as vice-chair of the southeastern Minnesota chapter of Self-Advocates Minnesota,has been a leader in The Arc and other self-advocacy organizations for more than two decades. His many activities on behalf of people with disabilities have included serving as a board member for People First Minnesota since 1991 and serving on the board of The Arc Minnesota, including service as board secretary. The veteran self-advocate frequently speaks at local forums of elected officials and at the capitol. He also frequently gives time to do news media interviews, speaking about the services he and others receive,and the importance of funding support services.

“Speaking up for yourself is so important,” Applequist said. “I know by telling my story, I’m helping others and helping legislators understand the needs of self-advocates and the services we depend on.” Applequist also is an active member of Remembering with Dignity, the statewide organization dedicated to remembering those who died at Minnesota state institutions in the past century aren’t forgotten. The Remembering with Dignity organization works to mark residents’ graves with individual names and not the numbered markers used for decades.

Shaw began his involvement in The Arc when his second son, David, was born with Down syndrome. He and his wife Kay joined the local chapter of The Arc in St. Paul, where they lived at the time.

“I did not anticipate learning anything about people with developmental disabilities or working on their behalf until David was diagnosed,” Shaw said. “Throughout my many experiences with The Arc Minnesota and Home and Community Options, I have enjoyed working with wonderful, caring people. Whatever successes we enjoyed were the results of team effort. I played my role, and other people did as well — with excellence.”

After his son was born, Shaw began working on projects to improve educational, employment, recreational, and living opportunities for everyone with intellectual and developmental disabilities. He eventually became a leader with The Arc Minnesota and served as its board president. Shaw has an extensive list of activities that have benefited people with developmental disabilities and The Arc. He championed the movement of people with developmental disabilities from the state institutions to life in the community. He also helped start and build The Arc Minnesota’s planned giving program to create a more sustainable future for the agency.

After moving from St. Paul to Winona, he became a dedicated leader for Home and Community Options, Inc., serving as board president and chair of many committees in the agency. Shaw continues his public policy advocacy by meeting with local legislators, writing letters to the editor, and speaking up for proposals that improve the quality of services and raise the wages of staff that support people with disabilities.

Leaders in The Arc praised the heroes. “Charlie has been one of the most dedicated Minnesotans with disabilities that I’ve known who speaks up for the rights and dignity of people with developmental disabilities,” said Buff Hennessey, executive director for The Arc Southeastern Minnesota in Rochester. “His voice has been heard in Rochester, throughout southeastern Minnesota and at the state capitol.”

“During the holidays, we gave thanks for the people who have made a difference on our lives,” said Dennis Theede, development director for Home and Community Options and past president of The Arc Minnesota. “Those of us involved in disability services and advocacy included people like Stewart, who have helped make it possible for Minnesotans with disabilities to get the support they need to be full members of our communities. His service and advocacy for people with disabilities are broad-based, consistent, and substantial. He truly qualifies as a Hero of The Arc.”

The Arc Minnesota is a non-profit organization that promotes and protects the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and actively supports their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes. It has 12 affiliated local chapters and more than 3,500 members across the state of Minnesota. Learn more about The Arc Minnesota’s activities and services at www.arcmn.org

 

Playground fund drive continues

Turtle Lake Elementary PTA Playground Leadership has received a $20,000 investment from the Paul Adelman Children with Disabilities Endowment Fund. The group is working to build a fully accessible playground at the Shoreview school and has conducted the “A Playground for Everyone” campaign for several months.

The school, which has more than 1,000 students, is part of the Mounds View School District. As of mid-December, the Turtle Lake Elementary Playground Committee had raised $110,290. The group is working to raise $280,000 by April 1. For detailed information on this project and the benefits of inclusive play visit www.turtlelakeplayground.weebly.com

 

Minnesotan joins amputees’ board

The Amputee Coalition has announced its 2014 officers and board of directors. Minnesotan Leslie Pitt Schneider is treasurer. Dennis Strickland of Georgia is chairman and Marshall J. Cohen of New York is immediate past chair.

Other officers include chair-elect Dan Berschinski of California; vice chair Jeff Lutz of Louisiana and secretary Mahesh Mansukhani of California. Each officer will serve a one-year term.

“We are fortunate to have such accomplished board members who are also dedicated and passionate about serving the limb loss community,” said Sue Stout, interim president & CEO of the Amputee Coalition. “The depth of their backgrounds and expertise is invaluable to the coalition.”

Continuing on the Amputee Coalition Board are Ron Drach of Maryland; Michael Estrada of North Carolina; Col. Gregory D. Gadson of Virginia; Terrence P. Sheehan, MD, of Maryland; and Charlie Steele of North Carolina.

According to Strickland, the board anticipates expanding and adding additional board members over the next 18 months. The Virginia-based group is a national nonprofit organization whose mission is “to reach out to and empower people affected by limb loss to achieve their full potential through education, support and advocacy, and to promote limb loss prevention.”

 

FAST, Therapy Dogs Chapter 125 are among DHS honorees

Eight Minnesota organizations were honored with 2013 Commissioner’s Circle of Excellence Awards in December. Presented by Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) Commissioner Lucinda Jesson, the awards are for organizations that make outstanding contributions to human services program clients. This is the third year for the awards.

Members of Families Achieving Success Today (FAST)Recipients were recognized at a ceremony at the Elmer L. Andersen Human Services Building in St. Paul. Jesson noted that the winners stand out among many organizations providing critical human services programs and promoting healthy and productive communities in Minnesota.

“Our vision at the Department of Human Services is healthy people, stable families and strong communities, but we know that we won’t get there alone,” said Jesson. “The people and organizations being recognized today represent the very best of the many successful partnerships we have across Minnesota.”

Several of the organizations honored serve people with disabilities and the elderly. One honoree is Families Achieving Success Today (FAST), a pilot initiative funded and led by Ramsey County Workforce Solutions. FAST provides integrated and co-located employment and mental and physical health services to Ramsey County’s Minnesota Family Investment Program clients with disabilities. These clients might otherwise apply for Supplemental Security Income or have difficulty engaging in employment services.

FAST supports the belief that every parent can work to some degree and provides the opportunity for parents to obtain employment and utilize extra help to retain their jobs over time. FAST partners include Goodwill Easter Seals as a lead agency, along with HIRED, Open Cities Health Center and People Incorporated Mental Health Services.

Therapy Dogs Intl. Chpt 125Therapy Dogs International Chapter #125 was also honored by Jesson. The group is a chapter of Therapy Dogs International and serves the Twin Cities metro area with more than 80 certified handler-dog teams.

Since the 1980s, Therapy Dogs International Chapter #125 dogs have provided emotional comfort by sharing unconditional love and affection through regular visits to the Anoka-Metro Regional Treatment Center, hospitals, schools, nursing homes and other locations. Research has shown that therapy dogs have many benefits including lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels, increasing survival rates of people who have suffered cardiac arrest, easing depression, increasing patient and staff morale, providing social stimulation and improving quality of life.

Jesson honored the Mental Health Crisis Alliance, a coalition of health plans, the state of Minnesota and consumer groups working together to improve the mental health crisis system in Ramsey, Dakota and Washington counties. The Mental Health Crisis Alliance formed as a result of a system-wide crisis that was sending mentally ill patients far from home to receive inpatient psychiatric care.

In 2011 the alliance created the new Urgent Care for Adult Mental Health in St. Paul to consolidate and integrate services, providing immediate crisis services to people in need. The Urgent Care for Adult Mental Health is the first such facility in the state and has measurably improved outcomes for consumers and reduced system costs.

Another winner is Fairview Partners, a nonprofit organization based in Edina. Fairview Partners has been providing care to seniors since 1996, including participants in the Minnesota Senior Health Options program. Fairview Partners exists as a collaborative partnership to enhance the quality of life and health status for older adults in the seven-county metro area by providing proactive and coordinated care management in the most appropriate environment. Due to the unique partnerships that comprise Fairview Partners, there is a commitment to collaboration through joint decision-making, fiscal responsibility and quality outcomes.

Other winners include Alexandria’s Caring Hands Dental Clinic and its work to provide services to those in need; Bemidji’s Conifer Estate’s transitional housing program for homeless families; the statewide hunger relief organization Hunger Solutions Minnesota; and the White Earth Band of Ojibwe Indian Child Welfare Program in the Becker, Clearwater and Mahnomen counties area.

 

Arc Greater Twin Cities awarded grant

The Arc Greater Twin Cities received a three-year grant totaling $425,000 from the U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence against Women. The funding will support an initiative aimed at greater justice for victims of violence who have intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The grant funds the development of a community needs assessment for victims with disabilities, which will be conducted jointly by The Arc Greater Twin Cities and the Sexual Violence Center. The two organizations will work with an outside consultant to develop plans.

The initiative complements The Arc Greater Twin Cities’ Abuse Prevention Initiative, which started in 2009. People with disabilities are at far greater risk for abuse than people without disabilities and most abuse is unreported. The Arc works closely with first responders to better serve the needs of victims with disabilities, and educates persons with disabilities and their family members to recognize and report abuse and to live safely. Since the initiative’s official launch in 2011, more than 1,000 professionals and community members have received information and training on supporting individuals with disabilities who have been abused.

“People with intellectual and developmental disabilities are citizens, and they deserve equal justice,” said Kim Keprios, The Arc Greater Twin Cities CEO. “This important grant enables The Arc Greater Twin Cities to take our work to the next level and make a real difference for our community’s most vulnerable residents. We’re looking forward to working with the Sexual Violence Center to strengthening our practices and procedures, ultimately better serving victim survivors.”

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