SDS Newsletter April 2013



Imagine a single online care plan per SDS client, created by the client’s providers, accessible to SDS employees for efficient review and then providers for updating.

I’m pleased to announce that we will be building such a system over the next couple of years, with support from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The goal of the project is, of course, to better manage our programs, make them easier to use for our partners, and ultimately provide better support to all of our clients.

The service plan, for all programs eventually, will be put into the system by the client’s provider(s). SDS staff will then review the plan. Once approved, the plan will then be accessible by the relevant providers.

Clearly, many different pieces will need to be connected to allow a correct service to an eligible client on an approved plan. For example, client assessment and Medicaid or other program eligibility must be current and in the system.

Providers’ credentials (such as certification and licensing) must also be up-to-date and evident. A provider portal is planned to accomplish this.

Various levels of security access will be developed to ensure we protect all confidential information.

We plan to announce the contractor for the “Provider Portal and Automated Service Plan” soon. The SDS team, led by me, will also partner with a third-party project management/quality assurance contractor, as required by CMS.

We recognize that we have many partners in the delivery of programs for seniors and people with disabilities. I assure you that clients and other stakeholders will all have a role in developing the system over the next few years.

I look forward to working together with many of you through this project and am positive that our new system will be an impressive success—a great result of our collective efforts and commitment to those we serve!

Happy spring,

Duane Mayes, Division Director
Senior and Disabilities Services


Jon Sherwood

Welcome, Jon Sherwood!

Jon Sherwood has long been the Medicaid go-to guy for DHSS, working behind the scenes on a wide range of projects from implementing Denali KidCare to planning for the arrival of the Affordable Care Act in Alaska. He has been with the department for more than two decades. He was initially hired to develop the home and community based waivers that are now a keystone of SDS. He spent eight years on the Alaska Commission on Aging, as the DHSS commissioner’s designee, and worked on projects with the Governor’s Council for Disabilities and Special Education when he was manager of Medicaid eligibility and long term care.

Now, he has accepted the position of deputy director of SDS. Sherwood will take the position vacated by Joanne Gibbens, who is retiring.

“We’ve been very fortunate to have Joanne’s expertise and dedication,” said Director Duane Mayes, “and I’m thrilled to have Jon bring his knowledge and background to the position. SDS staff, provider partners and clients all stand to benefit from his experience."

Sherwood begins his new chapter with DHSS on April 29.

Welcome, Jon!


Legislative update

A number of bills of interest to SDS stakeholders have made it through the House and Senate, and are now being reviewed to ensure they’re ready to pass to the Governor for his signature.


State confronts brain-injury unknowns

Brain injury is a serious problem in Alaska, but progress in treatment and prevention is hampered by two things: a lack of resources specifically for Alaskans with brain injuries, and a lack of knowledge about brain injury in the state.
In 2010 the state Legislature tasked SDS with addressing both issues, and a statewide Traumatic and Acquired Brain Injury Program is taking shape.
The division immediately added some case management for people with brain injuries, and $2,500 mini-grants that people could use for health care, medical equipment — whatever helped.

Demand far exceeds supply, though, and the next steps are more time-consuming. Two program employees hired last year are overseeing two key components to improving Alaska’s response to brain injuries:

Another goal is to increase cooperation and understanding between groups addressing brain injuries, from medical providers to policymakers to patient advocates. Alaska held its first conference on the topic this year to network and learn from national experts.
“We’re behind in comparison to other states,” Wallace said she learned at the conference. With no specialized treatment available, “we send so many people out of state.”
Mild injuries without treatment can have very severe consequences later, said Mumaw – hence the state’s call for a comprehensive registry to track even mild injuries over time.

Alaska aims to collect data on both traumatic (from an external impact) and acquired (from an internal trauma like a stroke) brain injuries. The registry should help clarify prevention and care needs, but assembling it is complicated because much of what we want to know isn’t collected. The data sets that are collected are different enough that they are difficult to stitch together into a clear big picture.

Head injury diagram

Many traumas — from falling in an icy parking lot, for example — don’t get reported. The state’s injury tracking system notes injuries that keep a person in a hospital for at least 24 hours. A person who’s hit hard enough to black out for a few moments may be released after a few hours, or only visit a doctor, or not seek any medical treatment. But the 2009 death of actor Natasha Richardson shows simply falling on a ski slope can be fatal. She initially appeared fine and joked about her fall, said a news report at the time. The ski patrol insisted she see a doctor, but Richardson declined. She died two days later.

For more information on the TABI Program, contact Christy Wallace, Program Manager 465-5810.


2013 SDS Training news

Save the date! The second annual SDS Care Coordination Connections Conference will be Nov. 14-15, 2013, in the Millenium Hotel, Anchorage.

Our first annual care coordination conference was so well attended that we nearly maxed out the BP Energy Center. We’re moving to the Millenium to have more centralized conference space plus room for breakout discussion rooms. The hotel will also be able to offer special room rates to attendees. It’s close to the airport and offers plenty of parking onsite.

Participants told us the information and opportunities presented were meaningful and relevant to their practice, and they wanted more time to engage, so we stretched the conference to two days.

Look for registration notices to be posted in September. We hope you can come… Together we are helping to build great “Connections” with our community care coordinators!

For more information, check: Questions or comments? Email