A day in the life of Carlos Ramos, psychosocial rehabilitation specialist at DHW

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As Carlos Ramos, psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, breezes through the regional office where he is based, his banter with colleagues leaves a warm wake of energy, humor, and generosity. His every interaction speaks of his inspired dedication to his team’s work, and his obvious passion for helping Idahoans.

Carlos Ramos, pyschosocial rehabilitation specialist, and Christine Poff, client services technician, pause for a photo before starting their work day in Family and Community Services. See page 3 to read about a day in the life of Carlos.

Carlos Ramos, pyschosocial rehabilitation specialist, and Christine Poff, client services technician, pause for a photo before starting their work day in Family and Community Services.

Carlos has worked for the state for more than 11 years. When we meet him, it has been two weeks since his promotion to the newly developed role of psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, although he prefers to refer to his role as “family engagement specialist.” Prior to this, he was a client services technician for several years. His work involved providing support for supervised visits between children who are in foster care and their families. In his new role, he focuses more on proactive training and relationship building between clients and department staff. Ultimately, his work is always focused on providing support and resources that will lead toward the path of safe reunification for the family.

Carlos glows with natural charm as he introduces us to his colleagues in the office. He poses for a picture with one colleague, Christine Poff, teasing her (or himself): “You should sit down for this photo. You’re too tall!” he says. To another colleague, he checks that they are still planning on having tamales for lunch sometime this week. He checks the staff notes board to see if his former supervisor, Sharon Campbell, is in. He describes her as “magic” and talks about her glowingly and at length throughout our visit. A colleague appears from a visitation room cradling a baby, and Carlos strides over, unable to help himself from joining in. As he leans down toward the baby, his normal smile broadens and beams over his entire face. “You’re one of those cute babies!” he coos. Continue reading

A Day in the Life of Wendy Walther Davis: The ‘Why’ of the Work

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Like many department employees, Wendy Walther Davis, medical program specialist, sits in an unassuming office in the belly of an office building where the public does not tread. Also like so many employees, Wendy quietly goes about doing an enormously valuable job. She arranges medical transportation for Medicaid participants with urgent needs.

When we think of medical transportation, the conjured image is a van or ambulance picking someone up, dropping them off, and it’s done. But in Wendy’s world, figuring out how to transport someone is far more complicated, and sometimes life and death. “I don’t just work with transport companies,” she says. “I work with doctors, long-term care providers, government entities, participants, and the participants’ families. I genuinely care about these people. In fact, many of them feel like friends.”

Wendy Walther Davis is a medical program specialist in the Division of Medicaid.

Wendy Walther Davis is a medical program specialist in the Division of Medicaid.

Much of Wendy’s job entails working around obstacles to ensure patients get what they need within the timeframe they need it. On the day we caught up with her she was working to get a terminal patient out of state back to Idaho so they could spend their last days with their family. To accomplish this, she worked with the family to ensure hospice was in place when the patient arrived, worked with the out-of-state provider’s transportation team to make sure they were aware of the patient’s situation and ready in case he passed away during the trip. Although this is not a situation that would normally be attempt by Wendy and her team of providers, they were determined to try because it is “the right thing to do. No one should have to die in a hospital hundreds of miles from their family.” she says. Continue reading

A day in the life of the Assertive Community Treatment Team in Region 3

(Client names have been randomly changed to a letter to protect their identity.)

To an outsider, it’s a pretty casual meeting on a recent late summer morning. It would be easy to assume clinicians Ashley Hammond, Angela Saitta, and Tara Dennis, and Clinical Supervisor Brian Lindner are discussing family or friends or catching up after a holiday weekend. Until you listen a little closer.

“She’s been stable, but she does have an upcoming (appointment), so we want to follow up on what her plan is for that,” Angela says of Client D, who they’ll be seeing today.

“I’m concerned he may be drinking again because I got a text from him … after missing his home visit,” Ashley says about Client H, who she’ll be seeing this morning.

They celebrate another client who has taken the initiative to contact the Social Security administration on his own: “He is capable of that.”

Another client may not be able to make their rent payment this month, and the team explores programs that may be able to help her.

The team shares a moment of victory as they hear a client will be returning after being out of contact for a while after a medication change.

“Yes, we found him!” Brian says.

“He’s back in (the area),” Angela shares, before the conversation shifts to the best way to connect with him.

“He likes music,” Angela says. “I’ve talked to him about Game of Thrones.”

Group photo from morning meeting

(Clockwise from front left) Region 3 Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) team clinician Ashley Hammond, clinical supervisor Brian Lindner, clinician Angela Saitta, and clinician Tara Dennis meet for a recent morning staff meeting.

For clients served by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s Region 3 Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) team, mental health support and treatment doesn’t look like what many people may think of as typical counseling or medication management. The team isn’t preparing for a day of office hours and appointments; they are planning for the 16 clients they will be meeting in the community on this day – some at home, some at work, others in challenging living situations because of their serious and persistent mental illnesses and resulting symptoms. Continue reading

A day in the lives of DHW self-reliance specialists for Child Support Services

Throw out your preconceived notions of a customer service representative who takes orders and transfers calls. In today’s world, at the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (DHW), customer service representatives are problem-solvers and communicators. They are investigators and protectors. They listen to understand, and they speak with smiles guaranteed to comfort confused and anxious callers.

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Self-reliance specialist Ambrosia Felton keeps her thank you notes on her desk to remind her of the people she has helped.

Their titles today are more reflective of their purpose. They are self-reliance specialists, and they are resolute in their goal to help their customers get to self-sufficiency by assisting them in times of need.

Ambrosia Felton and Rachelle Thrower are two of the 96 self-reliance specialists (located in Boise, Twin Falls, Idaho Falls, and Pocatello) who create the defining experience for those who call Child Support Services in the department’s Division of Welfare. The callers are mostly moms and dads who are either receiving support or providing support for their children. Sometimes the callers are employers or caseworkers.

Ambrosia and Rachelle are the first point of contact for parents who need help navigating the child support collection system. Child support is based on the idea that both parents are financially responsible for their children, and Child Support Services helps parents either pay or collect child support payments. In 2018, Child Support Services administered 147,518 cases and collected and distributed more than $205.8 million to Idaho families. Continue reading