LIFEPlan Member and Family Advisory Council (MFA) Seeking Applicants

LIFEPlan CCO welcomes it members and families to become part of the new Member and Family Advisory Council (MFA Council. The MFA Council addresses ongoing interests and needs of individuals receiving disability services.

Six regional Advisory Councils, comprised of 8-10 LIFEPlan CCO NY members, parents and caregivers, meet quarterly to review outcomes and advise leadership regarding care coordination policies and operations, and to engage in relevant education, training, and advocacy initiatives. Council members can expect to spend up to 2 hours of time/month on Council business. Meetings can be attended via teleconference.

Central New York Capital Southern Tier North Country

Hudson Valley Mohawk Valley

ABOUT THE MFA Council

• Six regions across NYS.

• 8-10 volunteer members per council.

• Councils meet quarterly.

• Diverse representation of self-advocates, parents, and caregivers.

• Council members must be enrolled with LIFEPlan, or family of a LIFEPlan individual.

• Council Members serve a 1 year term.

Each council is a diverse mix of self-advocates, parent and family members from various socioeconomic, ethnic, culture and disability groups. Council members are provided with information on OPWDD services and processes, and on pertinent topics within their region and across NYS. As advocates of LIFEPlan CCO services, council members actively engage organizations within their communities about care coordination topics and consult LIFEPlan staff regarding relevant education and training for LIFEPlan member and their families.

LIFEPlan is actively seeking applicants for the 6 regional MFA Councils. Applications are available on the LIFEPlan CCO website and will be accepted until February 28, 2019

Application on LIFEPlan website at this link:

https://lifeplanccony.com/apply-for-mfac/

OR Download and print to mail in application:

For more information, contact mfac@lifeplanccony.com or call Janelle Fields at 315-565-2612

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Employee of the Month, January 2019

Congratulations to Jelani Winfield for being selected the Employee of the Month

Jelani West is currently Assistant Manager at West and has been employed with Opengate since April, 2018. He began as a Direct Support Professional (DSP) with his prior experience at Independent Support Services as a Community Habilitation Specialist. 

Jelani frequently assists other Opengate programs with staffing, oversight, medical appointments and documentation. 

Fellow staff members report that he is a diligent employee who has exemplified professionalism and integrity. Demonstrating his consistent positive attitude towards team members, he will often adjust his schedule to meet the needs of the agency.

Jelani will soon earn his Bachelor’s Degree in Sports Management from St. Thomas Aquinas College.

Congratulations to Jelani Winfield from the staff of Opengate for being nominated and elected Employee of the Month by your fellow employees.

Other nominees include:  Pamela Elliott, Sashan Lee

To stay apprised of the activities taking place at Opengate we invite you to follow us on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn, as well as subscribe to our Newsletter and Blog.

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New Medical Director for Opengate

Dr. Elizabeth Melnychuk approaches her position as Medical Director at Opengate with over 20 years of experience working with special needs adults. She received her doctorate in Osteopathy from the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine. 

During her many years serving within the OPWDD service delivery system, Dr. Melnychuk has been the attending physician at the Hudson Valley DDSO, Richmond Community Services, Westchester Institute for Human Development and St. Jude’s Habilitation Institute. 

Dr. Elizabeth Melychuk

I have a few family members that are intellectually and developmentally disabled. They were the driving force for me wanting to spend my career caring for them and making their lives better. This patient population brings me immense joy that no other can. 

Dr. Melynchuk looks forward to meeting each new patient at Opengate, especially those who may be a bit fearful at first, but eventually learn to trust her and offer a smile in return. 

Her time away from Opengate is spent busy with many hobbies and interests including gardening, bird and animal watching, hiking one of the many trails near her home, watercolor painting and spending time with pets and family. 

Coastal South Carolina is Dr. Melynchuk’s second home and she travels there often to enjoy the beautiful beaches. 

Biggest surprise – she claims to have the sense of humor of an adolescent and laughs at the most unbelievable things! Welcome, Dr. Melynchuk, Opengate is proud to have you as one of our team members. 

To stay apprised of the activities taking place at Opengate we invite you to follow us on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn, as well as subscribe to our Newsletter and Blog.

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Employee of the Month, November 2018

Congratulations to Aurelia Martinez for being selected the Employee of the Month

Aurelia Martinez has been employed at Opengate for the past 5 years as the receptionist in the administration offices in Armonk, NY along with clerical and administrative duties for the Human Resources Department.

She plays an important part in the flow of guests and applicants who come into the office and always portrays a professional and pleasant demeanor when greeting them.

It’s reported that Aurelia consistently goes beyond what is required and assumes additional responsibilities when the department is short staffed.

Her positive attitude towards everyone she works with has demonstrated her ability as a role model for others.

Congratulations to Aurelia Martinez from the staff of Opengate for being nominated and elected Employee of the Month by your fellow employees.

To stay apprised of the activities taking place at Opengate we invite you to follow us on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn, as well as subscribe to our Newsletter and Blog.

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Staff Shortage Increases as Crisis Looms

The shortage of Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) and the living wage issues are a “public health crisis.” “If we do not have enough qualified staff, then we cannot provide quality support to people with disabilities” according to the ANCOR report Addressing the Disability Services Workforce Crisis of the 21st Century.

Opengate DSPs
Opengate DSPs

As a nation, we expect the very best care for our loved ones, however, those who are trusted to give that care are often invisible and underpaid. Not only agencies who serve those with intellectual and developmental disabilities are suffering hardships, but also affected are assisted living facilities, nursing homes, and child care centers who rely on DSPs for qualified care.

Opengate and similar agencies are constantly recruiting, hiring and training the best qualified professionals to fill the vacancies left by those who leave for other opportunities. This process is costly for the agency as well as disruptive to our individuals and their care.

When staffing is short another DSP must work extra shifts in order to be in compliance with regulations set forth. Without enough time off for rest, and spending time with their own families, DSPs are headed towards job burnout which is another reason for losing competent workers and continuing the cycle of recruiting, hiring, and training, and the expense to the agency in overtime pay.

Vacancy rates, turnover rates, and overtime hours have increased dramatically over a short few years due to lack of funding which fosters a cycle of crisis we must find a way to stop.

How do we put a plug in these burdensome expenses and still allow for the best care possible for our individuals?

Of course, we feel DSPs deserve a living wage and have been on the front lines of supporting the efforts in New York State to make better wages a reality, however, we are seeing the consequences of wage competitions we are not able to match from the business, retail, and restaurant sectors.

Often overlooked is higher level training, available advances in technology, and incentives to retain DSPs who are qualified and have an interest in developing their career.  DSPs represent an ethnic and gender diversity that’s not often seen in other professions. All DSPs should be offered incentives such as progressive education, benefits, and credentials to attract and retain them in a permanent position and funding should be in place to allow.

When funding cutbacks occur, and living wages aren’t met, agencies must rely heavily on financial contributions from families and other donors. Opengate is fortunate to have caring family members who have seen us through for 50 years, but the time has come when they shouldn’t be burdened with additional subsidies.

We at Opengate hope that every citizen of New York State will join us in facilitating the demand of providing a living wage for all Direct Support Professionals.

We fully supported the efforts and achievements of grassroots initiatives by #BFair2DirectCare who have taken their voice to social media as well as events and rallies held around the state in support of DSPs and individuals with disabilities. To learn more about how you can become personally involved refer to this link: http://www.bfair2directcare.com/#home

ACTION ALERT

Tell Governor Cuomo to #bFair2DirectCare!

Governor Cuomo’s Executive Budget proposal fails to include the funding necessary to give Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) a fair, living wage.

Encourage Governor Cuomo to correct this omission and add the #bFair2DirectCare living wage funding in his budget proposal!

CALL 518-474-8390 

To stay apprised of the activities taking place at Opengate we invite you to follow us on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn, as well as subscribe to our Newsletter and Blog.

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