Agencies Respond to West Explosion
Employee Relations Specialists on the Job:
Policy and Problem Solving
By Michael Wright
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.”
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.'”
Laundry Workers are Keeping it Clean
for State Facilities
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.
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.
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.
We are ...
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:
James Mabon, Austin
I work with end users on a daily basis assisting and troubleshooting technical issues. I work closely with the supervisors and managers in my area to provide the best customer service possible. It began with my curiosity of how a computer works. I worked with a high school classmate who got me involved with IBM systems, while working at Alabama Power and attending college at Faulkner University.More about James Mabon...
Nominate someone for I am HHS
DARS employees, do you work with someone who provides wonderful customer service both to the people of Texas and his or her fellow staff members?
Fill out our convenient online form to nominate your co-worker for recognition in The Connection.
Kimberly Whited, Lockhart
I help the caseworkers with organizing, transporting and supervising visits between parents and children and other various transports to court, doctors etc. I am also responsible for various tasks in the office from documentation to front desk coverage. I heard about a job opening through a family member and put my application in. Having never worked for the state I was clueless but I soon realized my people skills were my biggest asset.
Mary Ann Slavin, Austin
I provide legal support for the agency, primarily in the procurement and contracting for administrative goods and services, as well as goods and services for clients. I also have lead responsibility for issues involving intellectual property and historically underutilized businesses. I met my husband, Patrick Slavin, in law school and we moved to a very small town (population 2,000) in the Texas panhandle to practice with his father.More about Mary Ann Slavin...
Shannon Olvera, Gilmer
My goal is to make the jobs and lives of my supervisors and peers easier and more enjoyable. I do this by monitoring reports to avoid delinquencies, ensure our customers are issued their Lone Star Cards, determine eligibility for Food Stamps, TANF, and Medicaid, respond to customer concerns, problem-solve in TIERS, help lead staff meetings, assist clerical staff with scheduling and other duties, and am the Electronic Benefits Transfer Coordinator. .More about Shannon Olvera...
Employee Q and A
This week's featured question:
Who can I contact to look at or obtain a copy of my personnel file?
These are also good sources of information:
In Memory Of:
DSHS Worker Finished Marathon Just Before Deadly Blast
Tammy Moriearty, a DSHS program specialist in Lubbock, crossed the finish line at the Boston Marathon just as the first bomb exploded. She described the scene as the medal was placed around her neck to everythinglubbock.com.
DSHS Grand Rounds:
Preparing for the 2013 Mosquito Season and West Nile Virus
April 24 – 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. in the K-100 Lecture Hall in Austin (see Central Campus-Austin map) and via live webinar.
Texas was challenged in 2012 by an extraordinary number of West Nile virus cases. About one third of the country's deaths due to the virus occurred in Texas, with the majority of the cases occurring in North Texas. Local Health Departments throughout Texas are preparing for the 2013 arbovirus season, in hopes of preventing high levels of illness through control of mosquitoes.
Zachary S. Thompson, Director of the Dallas County Health Department and Christopher Perkins, Medical Director and Health Authority, Dallas County Health Department will discuss innovative and effective epidemiology, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment strategies for West Nile Virus.
Supervisors, Nominate a Bright Spot
Do you supervise an employee who brightened the day with outstanding effort?
Did the employee beat a tough deadline, solve a problem or handle a sticky situation in your office or facility?
April Bright Spots
- Colleen Cloudy (HHSC)
- Patricia Frerich (DADS)
- Olivia Tillis (HHSC)
- Kay Twiggs (DADS)
Suspicious Packages and Envelopes: Identifying and Handling
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer the following tips for recognizing and handling suspicious packages or envelopes. If a package or envelope appears suspicious, do not open it. Notify a supervisor, a security officer, or a law enforcement official.
National Library Week Recorded Webinars Available
Did you miss one of the free National Library Week (April 15-19) presentations? These recorded webinars and handouts are available.
- Learning at Your Fingertips: An Introduction to the Library’s Online Video Services
- Going beyond Google to Find Reliable Information
- Improving Quality by Improving the Quality of Data Presentation
- Promoting Health Literacy through Easy-to-Read Materials
- Grants and Proposal Writing
- Take Control of Your Inbox: Best Practices for E-mail Management in Outlook
- Write Like Everyone’s Watching: An Introduction to E-mail Etiquette
To learn more about library and information services available to HHS employees, view a 20-minute Library and Information Services Overview for HHS Employees recorded webinar on the DSHS Online Library week webpage. Contact Cindy Faries at (512) 776-6492, firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
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