Agencies Respond to West Explosion

Gov. Perry and HHS officials discuss HHS response to the explosion in West, Texas on April 17, 2013.

HHS agencies are actively involved in the response to last week’s fertilizer plant explosion in West. Commissioner Kyle Janek, far left, met with Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday, along with with Nim Kidd, chief of Texas’ Division of Emergency management (white shirt) and DSHS Commissioner David Lakey, right. Texas Education Agency Commissioner Michael Williams is across the table. DSHS has provided ambulance buses, medical incident support,rapid assessment, mental health and other resources. The DSHS State Medical Operations Center has been activated. DADS staff monitored the move of nursing home clients to other facilities and checked on community care clients in the area.

Employee Relations Specialists on the Job:
Policy and Problem Solving

Cynthia Lewis and Pamella Harris

Pamella Harris (left) and Cynthia Lewis

By Michael Wright
Staff Writer

In 23 years in human resources, Cynthia Lewis has only had to deal with one voodoo complaint.

When the Employee Resources veteran got the call that an employee was using voodoo dolls to discomfit a co-worker, Lewis wasn’t sure what to make of it, but she investigated. Turns out there were several voodoo dolls.

“We made her take the dolls down because they did look like the coworkers,” said Lewis, who has a degree in HR management. “Every day is new, something you find yourself consulting on.”

Marissa Hoffman

Marissa Hoffman

Lewis is one of 28 staff members in the HHS employee relations division responsible for answering questions and handling problems surrounding employment issues for 56,000 workers.

Employee relations specialists get more than 100 calls a day and while voodoo dolls are relatively simple, other issues are not, thanks to technology that has evolved faster than the legal framework to deal with it. Take Facebook as an example. Please.

“Technology is the biggest change,” human resources specialist Marissa Hoffman said. “In 2001, 2002 I certainly wasn’t getting any calls saying, 'I was perusing my employee’s Facebook page and they were talking about work.'”

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Laundry Workers are Keeping it Clean
for State Facilities

Wichita Falls laundry workers use a folding machine on sheets.

Workers use the folding machine at the Wichita Falls facility.

Unless you have a laundry fairy at your house, sheets, bath towels, blankets, bedspreads, quilts and clothing do not magically clean themselves.

DADS and DSHS facilities generate tons of soiled laundry each week and they are lucky to have a fleet of laundry fairies who whisk away dirty duds and deliver freshly laundered, ironed and folded linens to twenty-one locations.

For the 111 employees who work in the regional laundry facilities located in Kerrville, Abilene, Wichita Falls, Richmond and Mexia, the work is challenging and often unappreciated.

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Test Your Legislative IQ: Fraud, Waste and Abuse

Last week the Texas Senate passed Senate Bill 8, which strengthens efforts to prevent Medicaid fraud, waste and abuse. The legislation bans providers convicted of fraud in other states from being Medicaid providers in Texas, creates a data analysis team at HHSC to detect trends in Medicaid claims, and moves medical transportation services to managed care.


How much has the Health and Human Services Office on Inspector General saved the state in recoveries and cost avoidance since 2004?

$200 million
$1 billion
$3 billion
More than $6 billion

Legislature at a Glance

Whether you want to keep up with legislative action and news through the clippings service, follow specific bills through bill-tracker e-mail alerts or watch a committee hearing live, you can find the links on our at a Glance page.

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Health and Human Services

The Connection now features more workers nominated by their peers for I am HHS. Click on each agency tab to learn more about these exemplary employees:

Follow these instructions to nominate a coworker.