Rumor Has It
A newsletter about circulating rumors and a source of information and answers.
Welcome to the Fifth edition of Rumor Has It, a newsletter aimed at rumors and misinformation about our Agency. Rumors are cancers in organizations that undermine, sow dissent and distrust, and otherwise create needless stress amongst us.
It’s up to each individual to decide what to believe and who to listen to. I would just ask that you please consider the source and intentions of those spreading these rumors and dissent before you listen and accept that information.
I apologize for the long span between this issue and the last. Vacation, holidays, work and even a lack of rumors to write about, all contributed to the delays. Regardless, here are the latest…enjoy! And, please know that I encourage you and am very happy to receive input, feedback and information related to rumors that you hear about or want to be addressed:
Rumor 1: A client at Veteran’s Parkway was threatening to kill staff and everyone was in danger.
Response: The reality is that there was a client who was threatening to go home and kill his family or go to the parking lot and kill himself. This client was isolated behind a locked area and the police arrive shortly to respond to his threats, and they quickly removed him from this site. It turns out that he didn’t have a weapon and was using the threats to express his need for help.
If this had been a real threat to staff, we would have implemented the Agency-wide Crisis/Lockdown Policy (Dr Fox) to isolate the threat and minimize danger to all staff. The funny thing is that as I reviewed this policy and asked questions about training for staff, I found out that although it is a requirement for all staff to be trained and updated on this annually (and it is actually a very good and substantial policy to deal with real threats and crises), there were some staff who hadn’t received training on it lately. So, thanks to those of you who alerted me to this concern, and we will immediately fix it by setting up mandatory training/updates for all staff to ensure that we all know the policy, how to implement it, and are comfortable with the process if we ever need to implement “Dr Fox.”
Rumor 2: We eliminated the Client custodial program because we were trying to save money but the outcome was taking jobs from clients (isn’t that part of our mission to employ clients?), and we ended up with crappy custodial services anyways.
Response: First; we didn’t eliminate the program to just to save money, but instead did it to create a program for client training and job development that actually did those things (instead of hiring clients into custodial services that wouldn’t lead to permanent jobs).The former ‘client custodial program’ was providing jobs for only a few people, and it was costing too much money for the effort and outcomes generated. The program was actually creating a dependency on job coaching that would otherwise not be available at a real job, and it was also monopolizing staff time that should have been utilized to assist larger numbers of clients find real community jobs, with better pay, and improved opportunities. It should be noted that anyone who was in the janitorial program was (and still is) welcome to have a case opened with CES (Community Employment Services) or employment preparation programs.
The other part of the question about crappy custodial services was referred to Tom Janik and Jeff Kurth. They report that there were initial complaints about those services when the new contract was first implemented (many months ago), but those complaints have subsided since then. Both Tom and Jeff noted that they presented the complaints to the janitorial service company and (based upon the decline in complaints) assumed that those issues were fixed and resolved. If there are continuing issues or concerns with our contracted janitorial services, please let Jeff or Tom know so they can address them.
What’s Going On
A newsletter that presents information about what’s happening at Pioneer Center.
a) I wanted to make sure everyone is aware that Pioneer Center is offering 4 scholarships of $1,500 each for full-time staff who are pursuing additional education, degrees or other training that applies to their positions at the Agency. Money is tight and future funding is questionable from the State, but the Board and Leadership Team wanted to be sure that this resource was available to help staff continue to grow and improve.
b) Speaking of resources for staff, the Pioneer Center Board also authorized moneys to match employee contributions to their retirement plan. This year’s match is 100% of each employee’s contribution up to 2.12% of total compensation. I hope that every employee takes advantage of this great opportunity to get their retirement contribution matched – this is something that a lot of business and organizations eliminated during the recent recession, but Pioneer Center retained because of the value we see in helping staff build a retirement nest-egg for their future.
c) Pioneer Center is going to host a multi-chamber networking event at our new Veteran’s Parkway Community Mental Health building on August 26th. We’re in the process of planning a community open house for this site that will occur sometime in October.
d) Were you aware that Pioneer Center is creating our own Foundation? Our Development Department staff has been working with the Pioneer Center Board and legal consultation for over a year to choose the type of Foundation structure, create bylaws, and file the required applications with the State to become a recognized charity Foundation. All of those things have now been accomplished and the final details are being worked out to appoint the Foundation Board members and begin fundraising to provide our own funding source to help the organization grow, develop new programs and services, and provide a safety-net of resources to sustain the organization into perpetuity.
e) Don’t forget that Pedal4PADS event will occur September 21 at Larsen Park (9am). Put this in your calendars and bring your family to enjoy an easy bike (or walk) to raise money for a vital Pioneer program that serves the homeless of McHenry County.
f) The countdown is beginning toward September 8th when Dr Elizabeth McMasters will join Pioneer Center as our first-ever Medical Director. We are very excited to have one of the area’s premier psychiatrists join our team to both provide psychiatric services, and to also apply her knowledge to improving our structure and services and also working to resolve the community psychiatric capacity problem.
g) Pioneer Center is hosting a community-wide JOB FAIR on July 30, from 4-7pm and located in the 3rd Floor Community Room at our Veteran’s Parkway facility. Please let your friends or anyone who you think would be a good candidate to implement Pioneer Center’s service mission know about this event!
h) I’d like to recognize a group of staff who came together recently to address a serious service gap challenge we were facing. The challenge was about access to services and the lengthy waiting period potential clients were experiencing when they tried to enroll in our programs. A team of staff formed from Admissions, Programs, and Recovery Specialists to think creatively about how to shrink the waiting period and engage clients faster. The answer this team of staff came up with was to create two groups that new clients can participate in upon initial admission; an Adult Group (led by Julie Gale, Recovery Specialist and overseen by Danielle LaHa, PSR Coordinator). The second group (for children and adolescents) is led by Lisa Sabol from the Prevention Team, along with Mentors. The Admissions and Reception staff teams have been instrumental in getting these groups operating, and several therapists have also stepped up to provide additional intake assessment work to help clients get into services faster. I want to acknowledge the excellent work this Service Access Project Action Team and other staff has done to work together to bridge this service gap. Great job to all!!!
Special thanks to:
Julie Gale, Danielle LaHa, Wendy Newman, Lisa Sabol, Nick Szara, Brenda Estrada, Theresa Knott, Tina Jensen, Cheryl Ann Krautsak, Liz Rice, Trish McNeil, Morgan Lokecke, Kris Murray, and to our Mentors: Cathy Pierson, Lupe Carbajal, Susan Rowley, Kellen Smith, Stephanie Keating and Cheryl Niemo.
i) As I mentioned in the last newsletter, the uncertainty and volatility of the State budget (which comprises over 70% of Pioneer Center’s budget) resulted in us having to leave staff wage increases for FY 2015 out of the initial budget. The Board approved the Pioneer budget and agreed to review our performance every quarter to determine if and when our financial position solidifies and staff wage increases can be considered. In the meantime, the “excellence project” strategic goal of bringing all staff positions up to a level of national excellence will continue. As was mentioned previously, we have worked over the past 24 months to bring all staff up to the minimum pay ranges identified in the ‘excellence project.’ Now that this has been accomplished, the next step will be to start bringing staff up to the planned level of the 25th percentile mark for national excellence. To begin this part of the project, we are reviewing job descriptions and work performance indicators for a group of about 30 staff. Those staff would receive adjustments in wages to bring them up to the 25th percentile at the same time as their new position descriptions and performance measuring systems are put into place.
We expect this initial project to occur within the next several months, followed by other staff groupings moving through the same procedure until the entire organization is up to this excellence standard.
Thank you for all that you do to support the individuals and families we serve toward our Mission of Empowering Individuals To Achieve Their Full Potential.